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Toward a Mobilization Conception of Democratic Representation

  • LISA DISCH (a1)

This article analyzes what I term “the dilemma of democratic competence,” which emerges when researchers find their expectations regarding democratic responsiveness to be in conflict with their findings regarding the context dependency of individual preferences. I attribute this dilemma to scholars' normative expectations, rather than to deficiencies of mass democratic politics. I propose a mobilization conception of political representation and develop a systemic understanding of reflexivity as the measure of its legitimacy. This article thus contributes to the emergent normative argument that political representation is intrinsic to democratic government, and links that claim to empirical research on political preference formation.

Corresponding author
Lisa Disch is Professor, Departments of Political Science and Women's Studies, University of Michigan, 5700 Haven Hall, 505 S. State Street, Ann Arbor, MI 48109 (
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