Citizens' Preferences for Multidimensional Representation

13.02.2024 - 12:00 to 13:30
Location : 
A 5,6 Raum A 231
Type of Event : 
AB B-Kolloquium
Christopher Wratil
Lecturer affiliation: 
Universität Wien

How do citizens want to be represented in politics? We investigate citizens’ multidimensional preferences regarding six conceptions of representation that figure prominently in political theory but of which some have been overlooked in empirical work. Using original item batteries and a conjoint
experiment, we elicit the relative importance of the dimensions and the types of representation people prefer on each. Our results from surveys fielded in the USA, the UK, and Germany show that (1) descriptive representation has limited appeal for citizens at large, but is important for historically
marginalized groups; (2) citizens do not focus on local politicians when thinking about who represents them, but also seek representation from co-partisan politicians in other districts; (3) while citizens strongly value substantive representation, they are largely indifferent as to whether their representatives
are responsive to electoral sanctions. Our findings have important implications for how political scientists study democratic representation.