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Political representation is the activity of making
citizens Citizenship is a relationship between an individual and a state to which the individual owes allegiance and in turn is entitled to its protection. Each state determines the conditions under which it will recognize persons as its citizens, and t ...

citizens
"present" in public policy making processes when political actors act in the best interest of citizens. This definition of political representation is consistent with a wide variety of views on what representing implies and what the duties of representatives are. For example, representing may imply acting on the expressed wishes of citizens, but it may alternatively imply acting according to what the representatives themselves judge is in the best interests of citizens. And representatives may be viewed as individuals who have been authorized to act on the behalf of others, or may alternatively be viewed as those who will be held to account by those they are representing. Political representation can happen along different units such as
social groups In the social sciences, a social group can be defined as two or more people who interact with one another, share similar characteristics, and collectively have a sense of unity. Regardless, social groups come in a myriad of sizes and varieties ...
and area, and there are different types of representation such as substantive representation and descriptive representation.


Views of political representation

Under the ''
accountability Accountability, in terms of ethics and governance, is equated with answerability, blameworthiness, legal liability, liability, and the expectation of account-giving. As in an aspect of governance, it has been central to discussions related to probl ...

accountability
'' view, a representative is an
individual An individual is that which exists as a distinct entity An entity is something that exists as itself, as a subject or as an object, actually or potentially, concretely or abstractly, physically or not. It need not be of material existence. In ...
who will be held to account. Representatives are held accountable if citizens can judge whether the representative is acting in their best interest and sanction the representative accordingly. The descriptive and symbolic views of political representation describe the ways in which political representatives "stand for" the people they represent. ''Descriptive'' representatives "stand for" to the extent that they resemble, in their descriptive characteristics (e.g.
race Race, RACE or "The Race" may refer to: * Race (biology), an informal taxonomic classification within a species, generally within a sub-species * Race (human categorization), classification of humans into groups based on physical traits, and/or s ...
,
gender Gender is the range of characteristics pertaining to, and differentiating between femininity Femininity (also called womanliness or girlishness) is a set of attributes, behaviors, and roles generally associated with women A woman is ...

gender
,
class Class or The Class may refer to: Common uses not otherwise categorized * Class (biology), a taxonomic rank * Class (knowledge representation), a collection of individuals or objects * Class (philosophy), an analytical concept used differently f ...
etc.), the people they represent. On the other hand, ''symbolic'' representatives "stand for" the people they represent as long as those people believe in or accept them as their representative.
Hanna Pitkin Hanna Fenichel Pitkin (born July 17, 1931)''Contemporary Authors Online'', s.v. "Hanna Fenichel Pitkin." Accessed March 5, 2008. is an American political theorist. She is a Professor Emerita of Political Science at the University of California, B ...
argues that these views of political representation give an inadequate account of political representation because they lack an account both of how representatives "act for" the represented and the
normative Normative generally means relating to an evaluative standard. Normativity is the phenomenon in human societies of designating some actions or outcomes as good or desirable or permissible and others as bad or undesirable or impermissible. A Norm (p ...
criteria for judging representative's actions. Hence Pitkin proposes a ''substantive'' view of representation. In this view of political representation, representation is defined as substantive "acting for", by representatives, the interests of the people they represent. In contrast,
Jane Mansbridge Jane Jebb Mansbridge (born November 19, 1939) is an American political scientist. She is the Charles F. Adams Professor Professor (commonly abbreviated as Prof.) is an Academy, academic rank at university, universities and other post-seconda ...
has identified four views of democratic political representation: promissory, anticipatory, surrogate and gyroscopic. Mansbridge argues that each of these views provides an account of both how democratic political representatives "act for" the people they represent and the normative criteria for assessing the actions of representatives. ''Promissory'' representation is a form of representation in which representatives are chosen and assessed based on the promises they make to the people they represent during
election An election is a formal group decision-making process by which a population chooses an individual or multiple individuals to hold Public administration, public office. Elections have been the usual mechanism by which modern representative dem ...

election
campaigns. For Mansbridge, promissory representation, preoccupied with how representatives are chosen (authorized) and held to account through elections, is the traditional view of
democratic Democrat, Democrats, or Democratic may refer to: Politics *A proponent of democracy Democracy ( gr, δημοκρατία, ''dēmokratiā'', from ''dēmos'' 'people' and ''kratos'' 'rule') is a form of government in which people, the people ...

democratic
political representation. Anticipatory, surrogate and gyroscopic representation, on the other hand, are more modern views that have emerged from the work of empirical
political scientists This is a list of notable political scientists. See the list of political theorists for those who study political theory. See also political science. A * Robert Abelson - Yale University psychologist and political scientist with special inte ...
. ''Anticipatory'' representatives take actions that they believe voters (the represented) will reward in the next election. ''Surrogate'' representation occurs when representatives "act for" the interest of people outside their constituencies. Finally, in ''gyroscopic'' representation, representatives use their own judgements to determine how and for what they should act for on behalf of the people they represent. Under Rehfeld's general theory of representation, a person is considered a representative as long as the particular group she represents judges her as such. In any case of political representation, there are representatives, the represented, a selection agent, a relevant audience and rules by which the relevant judge whether or not a person is a representative. Representatives are those who are selected by a selection agent from a larger set of qualified individuals who are then judged to representatives by a relevant audience using particular rules of judgement. The rules by which a relevant audience judges whether or not a person is a representative can be either democratic or non-democratic. In a case where the selection agent, relevant audience and the represented are the same and the rules of judgment are democratic (e.g. elections), the familiar democratic case of political representation arises and where they are not, undemocratic cases arise.


Units of representation


Representation by social groups

In this method, elected representatives will be chosen by more or less numerically equivalent blocks of
voters Voting is a method for a group, such as a meeting or an electorate Electorate may refer to: * The people who are eligible to vote in an Election#Electorate, election, especially their number e.g. the term ''size of (the) electorate'' * The domi ...

voters
. This is not always practical for historical and current political reasons, and sometimes is impractical purely on the basis of logistics, as in regions where travel is difficult and distances are long. The shortened term "rep-by-pop" is used in
Britain Britain usually refers to: * United Kingdom The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, commonly known as the United Kingdom (UK) or Britain,Usage is mixed. The Guardian' and Telegraph' use Britain as a synonym for the United ...

Britain
but is relatively uncommon in the
U.S. The United States of America (USA), commonly known as the United States (U.S. or US), or America, is a country primarily located in North America North America is a continent entirely within the Northern Hemisphere and almost all ...

U.S.
Historically rep-by-pop is the alternative to rep-by-area. However, in the , the geographic realities made a necessity of low-population
electoral districts An electoral district, also known as an election district, legislative district, voting district, constituency, riding, ward, division, (election) precinct, electoral area, circumscription, or electorate, is a subdivision of a larger state St ...
in order to give meaningful representation to remote communities, and only in
urban Urban means "related to a city". In that sense, the term may refer to: * Urban area, geographical area distinct from rural areas * Urban culture, the culture of towns and cities. Urban may also refer to: General * Urban (name), a list of people ...
and
suburban areas File:Husby Kista.jpg, The Swedish suburbs of Husby/Kista/Akalla are built according to the typical city planning of the Million Programme. A suburb (or suburban area or suburbia) is a Mixed-use development, mixed-use or residential area, exist ...
has there been any success with applying rep-by-pop more or less evenly In the United States and other democracies, typically the lower house of a
bicameral Bicameralism is the practice of having a legislature A legislature is an assembly Assembly may refer to: Organisations and meetings * Deliberative assembly A deliberative assembly is a gathering of members (of any kind of collective) ...
(two-chamber) system is based on population—more or less—while the upper House is based on area. Or, as it might be put in the United Kingdom, on title to land, as was originally the case with the old pre-Reforms
House of Lords The House of Lords, formally The Right Honourable the Lords Spiritual and Temporal of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland in Parliament assembled, is the of the . Membership is by , or . Like the , it meets in the . ar ...

House of Lords
. In the
Senate The Curia Julia in the Roman Forum ">Roman_Forum.html" ;"title="Curia Julia in the Roman Forum">Curia Julia in the Roman Forum A senate is a deliberative assembly, often the upper house or Debating chamber, chamber of a bicameral legislatu ...

Senate
or the Lords, it does not matter how many people are living in a constituent's
jurisdiction Jurisdiction (from Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language A classical language is a language A language is a structured system of communication Communication (from Latin ''communicare'', meaning "to share" or "to be i ...
, it matters that the constituent have the jurisdiction (by election, heredity or appointment—the US, the UK and
Canada Canada is a country in the northern part of North America North America is a continent A continent is any of several large landmasses. Generally identified by convention (norm), convention rather than any strict criteria, ...

Canada
respectively).


Representation by area

The principle of rep-by-pop, when brought in and promoted publicly, removed many archaic seats in the British
House of Commons The House of Commons is the name for the elected lower house A lower house is one of two chambers Chambers may refer to: Places Canada: *Chambers Township, Ontario United States: *Chambers County, Alabama *Chambers, Arizona, an unincorpor ...

House of Commons
although some northern and rural counties necessarily still have variably lower populations than most urban ridings. Former British colonies like Canada and
Australia Australia, officially the Commonwealth of Australia, is a Sovereign state, sovereign country comprising the mainland of the Australia (continent), Australian continent, the island of Tasmania, and numerous List of islands of Australia, sma ...

Australia
also have rural and wilderness areas spanning tens of thousands of square miles, with fewer voters in them than a tiny urban-core riding. In the most extreme case, one riding of the
Canadian parliament The Parliament of Canada (french: Parlement du Canada) is the federal Federal or foederal (archaic) may refer to: Politics General *Federal monarchy, a federation of monarchies *Federation, or ''Federal state'' (federal system), a type of gov ...

Canadian parliament
covers more than 2 million square kilometres,
Nunavut Nunavut ( iu, ᓄᓇᕗᑦ ; ) is the largest and northernmost provinces and territories of Canada, territory of Canada. It was separated officially from the Northwest Territories on April 1, 1999, via the ''Nunavut Act'' and the ''Nunavut ...
, yet has less than one third the average number of voters for a riding, with a population of about 30,000. Making the riding larger would be difficult for the elected member, as well as for campaigning and also unfair to remotely rural constituents, whose concerns are radically different from those of the medium-sized towns that typically dominate the electorate in such ridings. The American Constitution has built into it a series of compromises between rep-by-pop and rep-by-area: two Senators per state, at least one
representative Representative may refer to: Politics *Representative democracy Representative democracy, also known as indirect democracy, is a type of democracy where elected persons represent Represent may refer to: * Represent (Compton's Most Wanted alb ...
per state, and representation in the
electoral college An electoral college is a set of Voting, electors who are selected to elect a candidate to particular offices. Often these represent different organizations, political parties or Legal entity, entities, with each organization, political party or ...

electoral college
. In Canada, provinces such as Prince Edward Island have unequal representation in Parliament (in the Commons as well as the Senate) relative to Ontario, British Columbia, and Alberta, partly for historical reasons, partly because those electoral allotments are constitutionally guaranteed, and partly because governments have simply chosen to under-represent certain voters and over-represent others. In the United States,
Baker v. Carr ''Baker v. Carr'', 369 U.S. 186 (1962), was a landmark United States Supreme Court The Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) is the highest court in the federal judiciary of the United States of America The United States of ...
(1962) established the "one-person/one vote" standard, that each individual had to be weighted equally in legislative apportionment. In Canada, until recent reforms, there were still many federal and provincial electoral districts in
British Columbia ( en, Splendour without diminishment) , image_map = British Columbia in Canada 2.svg , Label_map = yes , coordinates = , official_lang = None , Slogan = Beautiful British C ...

British Columbia
and other provinces that had less than a few thousand votes cast, notably Atlin, covering the province's far northwest, with no more than 1,500. The area of the riding was about the size of
New Brunswick ("Hope restored") , image_map = New Brunswick in Canada 2.svg , Label_map = yes , coordinates = , capital = Fredericton Fredericton (; ) is the capital city of the Canadian provinc ...

New Brunswick
and
Nova Scotia ) , image_map = Nova Scotia in Canada 2.svg , Label_map = yes , coordinates = , official_lang = English (''de facto'') , RegionalLang = French, Scots Gaelic , capital ...

Nova Scotia
combined, and larger than many American states. In practicality, the voters of the tiny communities scattered across the subarctic landscape, less than the population of a city block, had as much electoral clout as two Fraser Valley municipalities totaling up to 60,000 in population. The population imbalance between largely rural areas and overwhelmingly urban areas is one reason why the realities of representation by area still have sway against the ideal of representation by population.


Models of representation

Models of representation refer to ways in which elected officials behave in
representative democracies Representative democracy, also known as indirect democracy, is a type of democracy where elected persons represent Represent may refer to: * Represent (Compton's Most Wanted album), ''Represent'' (Compton's Most Wanted album) or the title song ...
. There are three main types:
delegate Delegate or delegates may refer to: * Delegate, New South Wales, a town in Australia * Delegate (CLI), a computer programming technique * Delegate (American politics), a representative in any of various political organizations * Delegate (United St ...
,
trustee Trustee (or the holding of a trusteeship) is a legal term {{Short pages monitor