Skip to main content Accessibility help

Discursive Representation



Democracy can entail the representation of discourses as well as persons or groups. We explain and advocate discursive representation; explore its justifications, advantages, and problems; and show how it can be accomplished in practice. This practice can involve the selection of discursive representatives to a formal Chamber of Discourses and more informal processes grounded in the broader public sphere. Discursive representation supports many aspects of deliberative democracy and is especially applicable to settings such as the international system lacking a well-defined demos.


Corresponding author

John S. Dryzek is Australian Research Council Federation Fellow and Professor of Political Science, Research School of Social Sciences, Australian National University, Canberra, ACT 0200, Australia (
Simon Niemeyer is Fellow in the Political Science Program, Research School of Social Sciences, Australian National University, Canberra, ACT 0200, Australia (


Hide All
Alker, Hayward, and Sylvan, David. 1994. “Some Contributions of Discourse Analysis to Political Science.” Kosmopolis 24 (3): 525.
Ankersmit, Frank R. 2002. Political Representation. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press.
Barry, John, and Proops, John. 1999. “Seeking Sustainability Discourses with Q Methodology.” Ecological Economics 28: 337–45.
Benhabib, Seyla. 1996. “Toward a Deliberative Model of Democratic Legitimacy.” In Democracy and Difference: Contesting the Boundaries of the Political, ed. Benhabib, S.. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 6794.
Brennan, Geoffrey, and Lomasky, Loren. 1993. Democracy and Decision. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press.
Brulle, Robert J. 2000. Agency, Democracy, and Nature: The U.S. Environmental Movement from a Critical Theory Perspective. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.
Castells, Manuel. 1997. The Rise of the Network Society. Oxford, UK: Basil Blackwell.
Castiglione, Dario, and Warren, Mark E.. 2006. “Rethinking Representation: Eight Theoretical Issues.” Presented at the Conference on Rethinking Democratic Representation, University of British Columbia, Vancouver.
Chambers, Simone. 1996. Reasonable Democracy: Jürgen Habermas and the Politics of Discourse. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press.
Chambers, Simone. 2003. “Deliberative Democratic Theory.” Annual Review of Political Science 6: 307–26.
Cohen, Joshua. 1989. “Deliberation and Democratic Legitimacy.” In The Good Polity, ed. Hamlin, A. and Pettit, P.. Oxford, UK: Basil Blackwell, 1734.
Davies, B. B., Sherlock, K., and Rauschmayer, F.. 2005. “Recruitment', ‘composition’, and ‘mandate’ issues in deliberative processes: should we focus on arguments rather than individuals?Environment and Planning C-Government and Policy 23 (4): 599615.
Dovi, Suzanne. 2002. “Preferable Descriptive Representatives: Will Just any Woman, Black, or Latino Do?American Political Science Review 96 (4): 729–43.
Dryzek, John S. 2000. Deliberative Democracy and Beyond: Liberals, Critics, Contestations. Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press.
Dryzek, John S. 2001. “Legitimacy and Economy in Deliberative Democracy.” Political Theory 29 (5): 651–69.
Dryzek, John S., and Berejikian, Jeffrey. 1993. “Reconstructive Democratic Theory.” American Political Science Review 87 (1): 4860.
Dryzek, John S., and Holmes, Leslie T.. 2002. Post-Communist Democratization: Political Discourses Across Thirteen Countries. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press.
Dryzek, John S., and Niemeyer, Simon John. 2006. “Reconciling Pluralism and Consensus as Political Ideals.” American Journal of Political Science 50 (3): 634–49.
Edwards, Derek, and Potter, Jonathan. 1992. Discursive Psychology. London: Sage.
Elster, Jon, ed. 1986. The Multiple Self. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press.
Eriksen, Erik O. 2006. “Democratic Legitimacy: Working Agreement or Rational Consensus?” Centre for the Study of the Professions, Oslo University College, Oslo, Norway.
Estlund, David. 1997. “Beyond Fairness of Deliberation: The Epistemic Dimension of Democratic Authority.” In Deliberative Democracy: Essays on Reason and Politics, ed. Bohman, J. and Rehg, W.. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.
Ferguson, James. 2006. Africa in the Neoliberal World. Durham, NC: Duke University Press.
Goodin, Robert. 1986. “Laundering Preferences.” In Foundations of Social Choice Theory, ed. Elster, J. and Hylland, A.. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 75102.
Grant, Ruth W., and Keohane, Robert O.. 2005. “Accountability and the Abuse of Power in World Politics.” American Political Science Review 99: 2944.
Gutmann, A., and Thompson, D.. 1996. Democracy and Disagreement. Cambridge, MA: Belknap Press.
Habermas, Jürgen. 1996. Between Facts and Norms: Contributions to a Discourse Theory of Law and Democracy. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.
Harré, Rom, and Gillett, Grant. 1994. The Discursive Mind. Thousand Oaks, Ca: Sage.
Hendriks, Carolyn M. 2006. “Integrated Deliberation: Reconciling Civil Society's Dual Role in Deliberative Democracy.” Political Studies 54: 486508.
Hochschild, Jennifer L. 1981. What's Fair? American Beliefs About Distributive Justice. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.
Keck, Margaret. 2003. “Governance Regimes and the Politics of Discursive Representation.” In Transnational Activism in Asia, ed. Piper, N. and Uhlin, A.. London: Routledge, 4360.
Kempton, Willett, Boster, James S., and Hartley, Jennifer A.. 1995. Environmental Values in American Culture. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.
Leib, Ethan J. 2004. Deliberative Democracy in America: A Proposal for a Popular Branch of Government. University Park: Pennsylvania State University Press.
Lindblom, Charles E. 1965. The Intelligence of Democracy: Decision Making Through Mutual Adjustment. New York: Free Press.
Manin, Bernard. 1987. “On Legitimacy and Political Deliberation.” Political Theory 15 (3): 338–68.
Mansbridge, Jane J. 1999. “Should Blacks Represent Blacks and Women Represent Women? A Contingent ‘Yes’.” Journal of Politics 61 (3): 628–57.
Mansbridge, Jane J. 2003. “Rethinking Representation.” American Political Science Review 97 (4): 515–28.
Niemeyer, Simon John. 2004. “Deliberation in the Wilderness: Displacing Symbolic Politics.” Environmental Politics 13 (2): 347–72.
Phillips, Anne. 1995. The Politics of Presence. Oxford, UK: Clarendon Press.
Pitkin, Hannah F. 1967. The Concept of Representation. Berkeley: University of California Press.
Popper, Karl R. 1966. The Open Society and Its Enemies. London: Routledge and Kegan Paul.
Putnam, Robert. 2000. Bowling Alone: The Collapse and Revival of American Community. New York: Simon and Schuster.
Reilly, Benjamin. 2001. Democracy in Divided Societies: Electoral Engineering for Conflict Management. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press.
Rhodes, R. A. W. 1997. Understanding Governance: Policy Networks, Governance, Reflexivity, and Accountability. Buckingham, UK: Open University Press.
Sagoff, Mark. 1988. The Economy of the Earth: Philosophy, Law and the Environment. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press.
Saward, Michael. 2008. “Authorisation and Authenticity: Representation and the Unelected.” Journal of Political Philosophy forthcoming.
Scheuerman, William. 2006. “Critical Theory Beyond Habermas.” In The Oxford Handbook of Political Theory, ed. Dryzek, J. S., Honig, B., and Phillips, A., Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press, 85105.
Shapiro, Ian. 1999. “Enough of Deliberation: Politics is About Interests and Power.” In Deliberative Politics, ed. Macedo, S.. Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press, 2838.
Sunstein, Cass R. 2000. “Deliberative Trouble? Why Groups Go to Extremes.” Yale Law Journal 110 (1): 71119.
Thompson, Dennis. 1999. “Democratic Theory and Global Society.” Journal of Political Philosophy 7: 111–25.
Walzer, Michael. 1999. “Deliberation, and What Else?” In Deliberative Politics: Essays on Democracy and Disagreement, ed. Macedo, S.. Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press, 5869.
Watson, Gary. 1975. “Free Agency.” Journal of Philosophy 62 (8): 205–20.
Weaver, Kimberlee, Garcia, Stephen M., Schwarz, Norbert, and Miller, Dale T.. 2007. “Inferring the Popularity of an Opinion from Its Familiarity: A Repetitive Voice Can Sound Like a Chorus.” Journal of Personality and Social Psychology 92: 821–33.
Young, Iris Marion. 1990. Justice and the Politics of Difference. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.
Young, Iris Marion. 2000. Inclusion and Democracy. Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press.
Recommend this journal

Email your librarian or administrator to recommend adding this journal to your organisation's collection.

American Political Science Review
  • ISSN: 0003-0554
  • EISSN: 1537-5943
  • URL: /core/journals/american-political-science-review
Please enter your name
Please enter a valid email address
Who would you like to send this to? *


Altmetric attention score

Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 0
Total number of PDF views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between <date>. This data will be updated every 24 hours.

Usage data cannot currently be displayed