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In virtually every democratic nation in the world, political representation is defined by where citizens live. In the United States, for example, Congressional Districts are drawn every 10 years as lines on a map. Why do democratic governments define political representation this way? Are territorial electoral constituencies commensurate with basic principles of democratic legitimacy? And why might our commitments to these principles lead us to endorse a radical alternative: randomly assigning citizens to permanent, single-member electoral constituencies that each looks like the nation they collectively represent? Using the case of the founding period of the United States as an illustration, and drawing from classic sources in Western political theory, this book describes the conceptual, historical, and normative features of the electoral constituency. As an institution conceptually separate from the casting of votes, the electoral constituency is little studied. Its historical origins are often incorrectly described. And as a normative matter, the constituency is almost completely ignored. Raising these conceptual, historical and normative issues, the argument culminates with a novel thought experiment of imagining how politics might change under randomized, permanent, national electoral constituencies. By focusing on how citizens are formally defined for the purpose of political representation, The Concept of Constituency thus offers a novel approach to the central problems of political representation, democratic legitimacy, and institutional design.

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Book Details

ISBN: 9780521849845
ISBN-10: 0521849845
Format: Hardback
(234mm x 156mm x 17mm)
Pages: 278
Imprint: Cambridge University Press
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Publish Date: 27-Jun-2005
Country of Publication: United Kingdom

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Author Biography - Andrew Rehfeld

Andrew Rehfeld is Assistant Professor of Political Science at Washington University in St Louis where he has been teaching since 2001. He is the recipient of the University of Chicago Century Fellowship and the Mellon Foundation Dissertation-Year Fellowship. The dissertation on which this book is based was nominated for the American Political Science Association's William Anderson Award in 2002 and the APSA Leo Strauss Award (2001). He is the author of articles which have appeared in academic journals such as Studies in American Political Development and books, including the Dictionary of American History. He is a member of the American Political Science Association, Association for Political Theory, The Historical Society, and the Midwest Political Science Association, among others.

Books By Author Andrew Rehfeld

Concept of Constituency by Andrew Rehfeld

The Concept of Constituency

Paperback, March 2008
$65.66