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Evaluating representation from citizens’ perspective : concepts of congruence, context and Europeans’ representational judgments

Abstract : The thesis aims at evaluating representation in Europe while emphasizing the need to consider the individual citizen’s perspective. It develops a new and original perspective on how congruence between citizens and parties affects systemic satisfaction. It draws on Pitkin’s theory on representation and the most recent theoretical advancements which focus mainly on representatives. The thesis highlights the important role of political parties, especially in the European context. After elaborating the “supply” side of the representational link (political parties), it demonstrates how the relation of citizens and the state is analyzed in public opinion research – the “demand”-side. In a next step, the dissertation refers to approaches which combine the supply and the demand-side of the representational link. In particular, it focuses on the concept of congruence. Building up on these lines in research, the thesis reveals gaps in existing research and develops an innovative insight into the representational link. Based on a differentiated normative understanding of “good” representation, the dissertation develops new standards for judging representation from citizens’ perspective. It develops new conceptualizations of congruence on the micro-level and suggests a typology of congruence between citizens and parliamentary parties, including micro- and macro-measures, resulting in nine different conceptualizations. The new concepts are introduced through (1) identifying the criteria for evaluating representation that every perspective suggests and (2) the formulation of the implicit standard for evaluating representation. These standards are transformed into empirical indicators. Based on this new, nuanced understanding of “good” representation, the dissertation explains how the characteristics of party-systems impact on different types of congruence. Further, the thesis contributes to the explanation of citizens’ political attitudes. It formulates nuanced assumptions about the relation between congruence and perceived responsiveness, yet highlighting the need to distinguish between an aggregate and an individual perspective on representation. The empirical analysis is based on an own original dataset which integrates EES-and CHES-data. First, the descriptive part of the empirical analysis compares congruence within the EU-member-states for the year 2014. We explore congruence on the micro- and on the macro-level with reference to multiple issue-dimensions that relate to societal cleavages or dimensions on which parties compete. The empirical analysis reveals a differentiated judgment about the functioning of representation in the EU- member-states, depending on the respective understanding of “good” representation. Second, we explain the relation of party-systems and congruence and provide greater insight into the relation of context and the quality of representation. The study refers – again – to multiple issue-dimensions and systematically compares the results of the dissertation with findings offered by the conventional macro-perspective on congruence. Third, the thesis tests how congruence influences citizens’ representational judgments via multi-level models. The analysis accounts for the nuanced conceptualization of congruence and is conducted for multiple issue-dimensions. The results provide new insights into the relevance of different standards for evaluating representation for citizen’s attitudes and accounts for differences between issue-dimensions. Concluding, the thesis illustrates how these results impact on our understanding of good representation, relates the findings to the presumed “crisis of representation” and highlights how this dissertation might inspire future research.
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Submitted on : Wednesday, April 27, 2022 - 4:28:24 PM
Last modification on : Sunday, June 26, 2022 - 9:30:55 AM


  • HAL Id : tel-03653349, version 1



Mirjam Dageförde. Evaluating representation from citizens’ perspective : concepts of congruence, context and Europeans’ representational judgments. Political science. Institut d'études politiques de Paris - Sciences Po, 2017. English. ⟨NNT : 2017IEPP0042⟩. ⟨tel-03653349⟩



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