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Cambridge University Press
Online publication date:
November 2022
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Book description

In the past two decades, democratic institutions have faced a crisis of representation. From authoritarian backsliding in countries with recent democratic transformations, to severe challenges to established liberal democracies, the meaning of political representation and whether and when it succeeds has become highly debated. In response to an increasingly fraught political climate, Contested Representation brings together scholars from across the United States and Europe to critically assess the performance of representative institutions in Europe and North America. Taking an interdisciplinary, comparative approach, this volume looks at the viability of electoral institutions, the responsiveness of government to public preferences, alternative institutions for more inclusive democracy, and the political economy of populism. Chapters also address the broader normative question of how democratic institutions can be adapted to new conditions and challenges. Expertly researched and exceedingly timely, Contested Representation provides critical frameworks that highlight realistic pathways to democratic reform.


‘Concerns about the capacity of liberal democratic institutions to solve pressing social problems while adequately representing the interests of ordinary citizens are on the rise. Consequently, authoritarian alternatives of both the populist and technocratic variety are resurgent. This volume deftly combines democratic theory and empirical evidence to reassess the state of liberal democracy and suggest reforms to support of its preservation.’

Nolan McCarty - Princeton University

‘This captivating volume joins rigorous empirical scholarship with cutting-edge theory on democratic representation to plumb leading challenges confronting mass democracies worldwide. Staging a rare dialogue among diverse approaches, this volume achieves something rarer still. It inspires hope for democratic innovation.’

Lisa Disch - University of Michigan, Ann Arbor

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