Making Constituencies is Lisa Disch's latest contribution to the theory of political representation. One of the most recognizable voices of the “constructivist turn,” with this book Disch offers an enriched overview of her well-established idea: representation is not a passive reflection of pre-existing social identities, but rather a dynamic process that actively shapes and mobilizes political identifications and preferences.
According to Disch, while social identities are politically relevant, it is representatives who give them actual political meaning and transform them into “a consequential political force” (Chapter 1). This is achieved through campaign messaging and policy design, whether intentional or not. For instance, eligibility rules for state pensions can imbue the demographic group of “seniors” with common economic interests and a shared political identity. Political representation has constituency effects. In support of this perspective, Disch aligns (Chapter 2) with Saward, another leading constructivist, to counter Pitkin and Mansbridge's view that political deliberation merely educates voters—Disch contends that it also moves and persuades them (42).
Disch's most pointed critique is directed towards “democratic realists” who complain about “voter incomp
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