Being represented. The relationship of representation from the perspective of citizens

By Lorenzo Barrault-Stella, Julien Talpin

This introduction offers an interdisciplinary perspective that questions the relationship of representation as seen from below, from the citizens’ point of view. Based on the constructive turn of political theory in the analysis of representation, the authors offer a perspective from political sociology on the reception of representative claims. Following academic discussions about political mistrust and the blind spots of the studies focusing on political work, they suggest that understanding citizens’ relationships with their representatives primarily requires analyzing their practices. They emphasize the virtue of intensive empirical and qualitative approaches that make it possible to go beyond the mere description of discourses and opinions. The comparison of the different case studies presented in this special issue, in different socio-spatial contexts in France, highlights some common features and regularities in the conditions of identification with political representatives. In so doing, the article shows how various forms of social, gendered, and ethno-racial inequalities are refracted in the political order. Finally, feelings of representation appear to be shaped primarily by what representatives do, rather than who they are. This result testifies to the relative internalization of legitimate frameworks for thinking about representation in contemporary France.

  • Relationship of representation
  • Represented
  • Mistrust
  • Identification
  • Intersectionality.
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