In the past decade, the way we look at political representation has changed. A new wave of thinking shows how representation rises from claims to speak for others, and how the claims are performed and received. The claim-based approach introduces new characters to the drama of representation, such as non-elective, shape-shifting and transnational representatives. Written by an originator of this approach, Making Representations responds to critical questions about the practice and the legitimacy of representation in today’s politics. It also expands the scope of the representative claim approach by exploring innovative themes such as performances of representation, becoming representative, and how we can generate political insights by exploring artistic representation.
Who represents whom in politics and government, and how can individuals claim to represent others? Saward (Univ. of Warwick) addresses these and other questions of representation in this study. . . As witness to the regimes of representatives claiming power as populists who have a direct connection with their citizens, this book explores the character, scope, and functions of representation. Separate chapters explore the day-to-day actions of representation, how claimants become representatives, the performance of claims of representation, the "shape-shifting representative," how time affects representation, legitimation of representative claims, and how other aspects of culture can provide useful insights. Saward recognizes that representation means "re-presentation," whereby an intermediary tries to make present something (or someone) that is absent, arguing that representation is a social achievement. He relies on the disciplines of political science, political theory, performance studies, sociology, anthropology, and art to communicate a deeper understanding of this form of social action. The list of references invites wide-ranging further reading, and the text gives readers access to a subtle topic. Ultimately Saward argues that the representative claim perspective can illuminate how political representation works. Summing Up: Recommended. Graduate students, faculty, and professionals.
In this masterful book, Michael Saward not only responds to his critics, but also tests the multidimensional borders of his theory, looking at representation outside formal political institutions, past traditionally political forms of communication, and beyond the micro level. Making Representations helps us think systematically about a social practice whose creative nature inherently confounds efforts to contain it within rigid analytical frameworks.