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Elections and Beyond

Edited by Jack H. Nagel and Rogers M. Smith

Publication Year: 2013

In any democracy, the central problem of governance is how to inform, organize, and represent the opinions of the public in order to advance three goals: popular control over leaders, equality among citizens, and competent governance. In most political analyses, voting is emphasized as the central and essential process in achieving these goals. Yet democratic representation encompasses a great deal more than voter beliefs and behavior and, indeed, involves much more than the machinery of elections. Democracy requires government agencies that respond to voter decisions, a civil society in which powerful organized interests do not dominate all others, and communication systems that permit divergent voices to be heard.

Representation: Elections and Beyond brings together leading international scholars from a wide range of disciplines to explore the twenty-first-century innovations—in voting laws and practices, in electoral systems, in administrative, political, and civil organizations, and in communication processes and new technologies—that are altering how we understand democratic representation. Featuring twelve essays that engage with national, provincial, and municipal governments across three continents, this volume tackles traditional core elements of democratic representation, such as voting, electoral systems, and political parties, while also underscoring the ways in which beliefs and preferences of citizens are influenced, expressed, and aggregated and the effects of those methods and practices on political agendas and policy outcomes. In pinpointing deficiencies in contemporary democratic practices and possibilities for reform, Representation provides an invaluable roadmap to improve democratic representation in the twenty-first century.

Contributors: André Blais, Pradeep Chhibber, Archon Fung, Jacob Hacker, Zoltan Hajnal, Matthew Hindman, David Karpf, Georgia Kernell, Alexander Keyssar, Anthony McGann, Susan Ostermann, Paul Pierson, Dennis Thompson, Jessica Trounstine, Mark E. Warren.

Published by: University of Pennsylvania Press


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pp. 1-5


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pp. v-vi

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Introduction. The Multiplying Challenges of Modern Representation

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pp. 1-12

In any democracy, the central problem of governance is how to inform, organize, and represent the opinions of the public so as to promote core values of popular control over leaders, equality among citizens, and competent governance. The authors of the Federalist Papers contended that modern republics improved on ancient democracies ...

I. Representation Through Elections

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Chapter 1. Evaluating U.S. Electoral Institutions in Comparative Perspective

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pp. 15-25

The purpose of this chapter is to provide an evaluation of U.S. electoral systems and electoral institutions more broadly, in comparative perspective. I will first determine how typical or untypical U.S. institutions are. I will then indicate how comparativists tend to judge these institutions. Finally, I will ascertain how well or poorly these institutions are seen to perform by citizens. ...

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Chapter 2. Are American Elections Sufficiently Democratic?

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pp. 26-38

The question posed in the title would have astonished the framers of our constitution, but not because they believed that they were proposing a republic rather than a democracy.1 Contrary to Madison’s often-quoted comment in the Federalist, that distinction was not commonly accepted (Dahl 2003: 179– 83; Adams 1980: 106ff ). ...

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Chapter 3. Barriers to Voting in the Twenty-First Century

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pp. 39-58

In the summer of 1997, a small group of inmates at Norfolk State Prison in Massachusetts formed a political action committee to influence public debate about criminal justice and social welfare issues. As had been true of inmates in the commonwealth since the American Revolution, the men in Norfolk were legal voters. ...

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Chapter 4. Uneven Democracy: Turnout, Minority Interests, and Local Government Spending

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pp. 59-89

We know that the majority of Americans usually do not vote. At best roughly half of adults vote in national contests. At worst, fewer than 10 percent of adults vote in local elections (Bridges 1997; Hajnal and Lewis 2003). We also know that those who do turn out to vote look very different from those who do not. ...

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Chapter 5. Fairness and Bias in Electoral Systems

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pp. 90-113

As scientists and citizens, we would like to evaluate objectively the fairness and bias of electoral systems. However, this is claimed to be impossible by many political scientists, as well as by various practicing politicians and the U.S. Supreme Court. The argument commonly made is that there are multiple, competing conceptions of fairness; ...

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Chapter 6. Political Party Organizations, Civic Representation, and Participation

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pp. 114-136

Parliamentary elections were held in a number of long-standing democracies in 2011, including Canada, Denmark, Finland, Ireland, New Zealand, Portugal, and Spain. With the exception of Ireland, turnout was significantly lower than the historical average in every country. In Portugal, turnout was the lowest in history (58 percent), ...

II. Representation Beyond Elections

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Chapter 7. The Paradox of Voting—for Republicans: Economic Inequality, Political Organization, and the American Voter

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pp. 139-165

Over the last generation, Americans at the top of the economic ladder have pulled sharply away from everyone else. The share of pretax income earned by the richest 1 percent of house holds more than doubled, from 9 percent in 1970 to over 23 percent on the eve of the 2008 financial crisis (Piketty and Saez 2003; Saez 2012). ...

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Chapter 8. A Democratic Balance: Bureaucracy, Political Parties, and Political Representation

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pp. 166-191

Political representation is experiencing an intellectual renaissance. A spate of new work (Manin 1997; Mansbridge 2003; Rehfeld 2006; Urbinati 2000, 2006; Urbinati and Warren 2008; Warren 2008; Williams 1998) has generated renewed interest in political representation— an idea that had been virtually silenced after Pitkin’s (1967) masterful treatment ...

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Chapter 9. The Closing of the Frontier: Political Blogs, the 2008 Election, and the Online Public Sphere

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pp. 192-214

This essay is about blogs, the online public sphere more broadly, and blogs’ role as a platform for political discourse. My central theme is that blogging is not what it used to be. In the years since the 2004 election, blogging has been normalized, professionalized, and institutionalized, and I try to detail what these interrelated changes mean for U.S. politics. ...

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Chapter 10. The Technological Basis of Organizational Membership: Representation of Interests in the New Media Age

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pp. 215-235

American citizens are represented not only through government institutions, but also through civic and political associations. Dating back to Tocqueville’s observation that America was a nation of joiners, social scientists have highlighted the important intermediary role that membership associations play in public life. ...

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Chapter 11. The Principle of Affected Interests: An Interpretation and Defense

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pp. 236-268

Many chapters in this book focus on the proper relationship between citizens and their government: problems of inclusion, equality, political opportunity, political expression, representation, and responsiveness. But even if we managed to perfect the pro cesses connecting citizens to their state, democratic ambitions would remain unsatisfied ...

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Chapter 12. Citizen Representatives

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pp. 269-294

Democratic theorists commonly distinguish between direct democracy and representative democracy. In a direct democracy, citizens rule themselves, while in a representative democracy they elect representatives to rule on their behalf. Today’s democracies are all representative in structure— a form dictated by scale and complexity ...


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pp. 295-314

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List of Contributors

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pp. 315-318

André Blais holds a Canada Research Chair in Electoral Studies and is Professor of Political Science at the University of Montreal. He is a fellow of the Royal Society of Canada and past president of the Canadian Political Science Association. ...


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pp. 319-338

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pp. 339-348

Th is volume originated in papers written for a Faculty Workshop Series or ga nized by the University of Pennsylvania’s Democracy, Citizenship, and Constitutionalism (DCC) Program. Th e Andrew W. Mellon Foundation and the Mary and David Boies Family Graduate Fund provided generous support. ...

E-ISBN-13: 9780812208177
E-ISBN-10: 081220817X
Print-ISBN-13: 9780812245141
Print-ISBN-10: 0812245148

Page Count: 328
Illustrations: 13 illus.
Publication Year: 2013