Contesting representation: Rancière on democracy and representative government

Thesis Eleven 122 (1):3-17 (2014)
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Several authors have recently stressed the constitutive and ubiquitous nature of representation, which, as a result, can no longer be conceived as a relation between pre-existing entities. This has important consequences for democratic representation, traditionally thought in terms of authorization, accountability or representativity. This article argues that Jacques Rancière’s political philosophy makes a fruitful contribution to the necessary rethinking of democratic representation. Although Rancière never systematically developed a theory of representation, this concept is shown to constitute a red thread throughout his political writings. His main contribution consists in shifting the focus from the relation between representative and represented to the relation between the distribution of the sensible as a space of representability and its disruption or contestation. This makes it possible to recast a critique of representative government, and to reconceive of democratic representation, which is about making the contingent equality underlying each order visible.



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References found in this work

The Concept of Representation.Hanna Fenichel Pitkin (ed.) - 1967 - University of California Press.
The Representative Claim.Michael Saward - 2010 - Oxford University Press.
On the shores of politics.Jacques Rancière - 1995 - London: Verso. Edited by Liz Heron.
The Representative Claim.Michael Saward - 2006 - Contemporary Political Theory 5 (3):297-318.

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