Citizens and their understandings and evaluations of representation: Introducing an interpretive approach to the study of citizen attitudes towards politics

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Abstract

This study introduces an interpretive approach to the study of citizens’ ways of relating to democratic politics, arguing that such an approach can enable access to citizens’ constructions and evaluations of political reality. Using a case study from the Netherlands, we show that Dutch citizens’ difficulties in relating to democratic institutions reflect at least partly a clash between their ideals of national representative democracy and their experience of it in practice. Citizens seek experience of representation in non-processual indications of representation through which they orient themselves: fixed positions, leadership that suggests action in a direction of choice, and an experienceable orientation towards output. They find themselves disappointed, as the complexities of representative democracy do not match the norms for representation that they employ.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)439-457
JournalRepresentation
Volume46
Issue number4
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2010

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