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The Concept of Representation

Hanna F. Pitkin (Author)

Available worldwide

Paperback, 330 pages
ISBN: 9780520021563
February 1972
$31.95, £27.00
Being concerned with representation, this book is about an idea, a concept, a word. It is primarily a conceptual analysis, not a historical study of the way in which representative government has evolved, nor yet an empirical investigation of the behavior of contemporary representatives or the expectations voters have about them. Yet, although the book is about a word, it is not about mere words, not merely about words. For the social philosopher, for the social scientist, words are not "mere"; they are the tools of his trade and a vital part of his subject matter. Since human beings are not merely political animals but also language-using animals, their behavior is shaped by their ideas. What they do and how they do it depends upon how they see themselves and their world, and this in turn depends upon the concepts through which they see. Learning what "representation" means and learning how to represent are intimately connected. But even beyond this, the social theorist sees the world through a network of concepts. Our words define and delimit our world in important ways, and this is particularly true of the world of human and social things. For a zoologist may capture a rare specimen and simply observe it; but who can capture an instance of representation (or of power, or of interest)? Such things, too, can be observed, but the observation always presupposes at least a rudimentary conception of what representation (or power, or interest) is, what counts as representation, where it leaves off and some other phenomenon begins. Questions about what representation is, or is like, are not fully separable from the question of what "representation" means. This book approaches the former questions by way of the latter.

The Problem of Thomas Hobbes
Formalistic Views of Representation
"Standing For": Descriptive Representation
"Standing For": Symbolic Representation
Representing as "Acting For": The Analogies
The Mandate-Independence Controversy
Representing Unattached Interests: Burke
Representing People Who Have Interests: Liberalism
Political Representation

Appendix on Etymology
Hanna Fenichel Pitkin is a political theorist. She is a Professor Emerita of Political Science at the University of California, Berkeley. 
"A brillant study, characterized by a closely-knit organization of ideas and by a well-written text fairly bristling with challenging insights. It is the most comprehensive--and very likely the best--book yet written on the concept of representation."--Polity "A major contribution to the study of representative government. . . . It is the special virtue of her work that so well defined an argument has room for so many issues and so much scholarship."--Political Science Quarterly "An outstanding contribution to professional knowledge . . . great enough to be required reading."--Journal of Politics "We are very fortunate in having such a thorough and philosophically well-informed treatment of the subject. . . .From now on this book can be expected to be the starting point for philosophical discussions of its subject." --Philosophical Quarterly

Johan Skytte Prize in Political Science, Skytte Foundation at Uppsala University

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