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Recursive Representation

Recursive Representation

Chapter:
(p.298) Chapter Thirteen Recursive Representation
Source:
Creating Political Presence
Author(s):
Jane Mansbridge
Publisher:
University of Chicago Press
DOI:10.7208/chicago/9780226588674.003.0014

This chapter adds a new ideal, recursive representation, to the existing set of ideals toward which representative practice should aim. In recursive representation, constituents and representatives engage in iterative, on-going, and mutually responsive communication, ideally producing learning on both sides. Current empirical and normative analyses of representation rarely focus on the communicative relations between constituent and representative. When they do, they usually describe the applicable ideal as “two-way” communication. Yet “two-way” communication usually involves only the constituent making demands (and sometimes providing information) and the representative either meeting those demands or explaining why they cannot be met. Recursive representation, by contrast, is an aspirational ideal that seeks to make constituents and representatives more like partners in the lawmaking process. This aspiration, now made more thinkable by new methods of communication, can apply not only in the legislative realm but also in the administrative and societal realms.

Keywords:   recursive representation, administrative representation, societal representation

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