UCL Faculty of Laws


Political representation under strain: Bridging the representative-constituent chasm

16 May 2017, 1:15 pm–3:00 pm

Harvard Web

Event Information

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Institute of Law, Politics and Philosophy


Council Room, UCL School of Public Policy, 29-30 Tavistock Square, London WC1H 9QU


Jane Mansbridge (Harvard University)


Institute of Law, Politics and Philosophy

Note that the total time will be devoted to discussion of the paper. Please email jeffrey.howard@ucl.ac.uk to request the paper.

About the paper

We have reached a crisis of legitimacy, with representation under increasing strain. Two trends are on a collision course. First, we are facing rapidly increasing needs for legitimate state coercion in order to solve increasing numbers of free-rider (or “collective action”) problems. At the same time, the legitimacy of existing state coercion is in many nations rapidly decreasing. Every ounce of legitimacy is thus increasingly precious. If we can meet this crisis, it will be, at least in part, by multiplying the ways that ordinary citizens can engage in recursive forms of communication with elected representatives, administrators, and formal or informal representatives in society. Recursive communication resulting in responsive action meets instrumental, autonomy, and dignity needs.