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The Constructivist Turn in Political Representation

Edited by Lisa Disch, Mathijs van de Sande, Nadia Urbinati

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Explores the 'constructivist turn': political representation's reorientation toward the constitutive or mobilising aspects of mass democracy

This volume traces the roots of the constructivist turn in the distinct (and competing) traditions of Continental and Anglo-American Western political thought. Divided into three thematic parts, these 13 newly commissioned essays develop the constructivist turn as a central concept. They advance the insight that there can be no democratic politics without representation; constituencies or groups exist as agents of democratic politics only insofar as they are represented.

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1. Introduction: The End of Representative Politics
Lisa Disch

Section One
The Constructivist Turn: Anglo-American and Continental Intellectual Genealogies

2. Rethinking Representation: Eight Theoretical Issues and a Postscript
Dario Castiglione and Mark E. Warren

3. Machiavelli against the Venice Myth: The 16th Century Dialogue on the Nature of Political Representation
Jan Biba

4. Power without Representation is Blind, Representations without Power are Empty
Bernard Flynn

5. Two Regimes of the Symbolic: Radical Democracy Between Romanticism and Structuralism
Warren Breckman

6. Political Representation: The View From France
Raf Geenens

7. Democracy and Representation
Claude Lefort (translated by Greg Conti)

Section Two
The Constructivist Turn: Normative Challenges

8. Representation as Proposition: Democratic Representation after the Constructivist Turn
Samuel Hayat

9. Don Alejandro’s Fantasy: On Representation and Radical Democracy
Oliver Marchart

10. Pinning Down Representation
Lasse Thomassen

11. Representative Constructivism’s Conundrum
Nadia Urbinati

Section Three
Constructivist Representation: Critique and Reproduction of Power

12. Exploring the Semantics of Constructivist Representation
Alessandro Mulieri

13. The Improper Politics of Representation
Mark Devenney

14. The Constructivist Paradox: Contemporary Protest Movements and (their) Representation
Mathijs van de Sande.

About the Author

Lisa Disch is Professor of Political Science and teaches political theory at the University of Michigan. She has published articles on the ‘constructivist turn’ in democratic political representation in the American Political Science Review and Perspectives on Politics. She is the author of two books: The Tyranny of the Two Party System (Columbia University Press, 2002) and Hannah Arendt and the Limits of Philosophy (Cornell University Press, 1994).

Mathijs van de Sande teaches political philosophy at Radboud University Nijmegen. In 2017, he obtained his PhD at the Institute of Philosophy in Leuven with a thesis on the prefigurative repertoire of recent assembly movements, such as Occupy Wall Street. His main research interests are radical democratic theory, political representation, activism and social movement theory.

Nadia Urbinati teaches political theory at Columbia University, New York (US). She works on democratic theory, and in particular representative democracy, populism, plebiscitary leadership, post-party representation.

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