The communicative constitution of representation and exclusion

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In the light of current debate on representation, specifically engaging with literature showing how representation is communicatively constituted, this paper empirically shows how exclusion also can be seen as communicatively constituted. The interpretive approach toward communication employed in this study presents new insights on how, for citizens, government communicates its responsiveness, and how citizens' interpretations that arise from these communications make sense. Dutch citizens who evaluate government responsiveness as low were interviewed to explore their views. The respondents evaluate government responsiveness on the basis of a set of engagements with government. These engagements are conceptualized in terms of four types of encounter – forms in which government manifests itself to citizens. By ‘thinking with’ these encounters, citizens relegate institutions and processes of representative democracy to the margins of political reality. Situating citizens outside of democratic politics, these interpretations imply the experience of exclusion, despite apparently functioning democratic institutions and processes
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)758-775
JournalCitizenship Studies
Issue number6-7
Publication statusPublished - 2014


  • citizen


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