(New) political representative claims: a global view (Brazil, China, France, Germany, India)


(New) political representative claims: a global view
(Brazil, China, France, Germany, India)

January 9, 2017

EHESS, 190 avenue de France, 75013 Paris 

The international research program “(New) political representative claims: a global view (France, Germany, Brazil, India, China)” (CLAIMS) is premised on the observation that Europe currently experiences a crisis of established forms of political representation, visible for example in increasing political distrust; indeed various claims to renew political representation are emerging, not only in Europe but all over the world. Yet most contemporary research on representation focuses on electoral/mandate representation within a single country; moreover, dynamics developing in the Global South, including non-democratic entities, are neglected by Western scholars. As a result, we lack comparative, global analyses of (new) “representative claims” (Saward 2010) developed outside the representative political system.
The CLAIMS project intends to address these research gaps by putting into perspective representative claims in France and Germany –two European democracies actively experimenting with new concepts of representation–, and in three BRICS states: India – the world’s largest democracy and a pioneer in electoral quotas (as a claim for descriptive representation) -, Brazil –the largest democracy in Latin America with innovative participatory devices including competing representative claims–, and China – a non-democratic regime engaged in a huge transformation with specific representative claims.
Building on German and French political theory, the project’s conceptual framework departs from standard ways of considering political representation. We argue that while mandate representation remains important, it fails to account for crucial contemporary developments. Our premise is that political representation is increasingly related to the (re)emergence of representative claims, i.e. situations in which an actor claims to speak/act in the name of others. Such claims are most often based on the denunciation of misrepresentation, which they pretend to correct.
In the five countries under scrutiny, we will identify different situations in which (seemingly) new representative claims are raised, criticized or justified. Our research will focus on two main research fields.

We will analyze: (i) representative claims at the national level raised during three national debates in each country; (ii) representative claims raised in two participatory devices at the sub-national level in each country. The project thus manifests a clear ambition to conduct research that is at the same time empirical and theoretical through a comparative perspective that gives a central place to “area studies” in the development of democratic theory.
This one-day conference will see a series of presentations, by the project’s team, regarding the proposed theoretical framework, methodological choices, and case studies. Each of these three dimensions of the project will then be commented upon by several experts. The launching conference will be followed by a three-day workshop (for the team only) dedicated to integrating the received feedback into our research program.


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