American Political Science Review

Research Article

Discursive Representation


a1 Australian National University


Democracy can entail the representation of discourses as well as persons or groups. We explain and advocate discursive representation; explore its justifications, advantages, and problems; and show how it can be accomplished in practice. This practice can involve the selection of discursive representatives to a formal Chamber of Discourses and more informal processes grounded in the broader public sphere. Discursive representation supports many aspects of deliberative democracy and is especially applicable to settings such as the international system lacking a well-defined demos.


Versions of this article were presented to the Conference on Rethinking Democratic Representation, University of British Columbia, 2006; Department of Political Science, University of Stockholm, 2007; Symposium on Representation and Democracy, University of Birmingham, 2007; and the 2007 conference of the American Political Science Association. For comments, we thank Katherine Curchin, Carolyn Hendriks, Alnoor Ibrahim, John Keane, Gerry Mackie, Eric McGilvray, Ricardo Mendonça, and Michael Saward. This research was supported by Australian Research Council Discovery Grant DP0558573.