One of the major challenges in providing quality representation comes from the desire to balance the will of the majority with the needs of political minorities. Of particular importance is whether substantive or descriptive representation are necessary to create symbolic representation and perceptions that government outcomes are fair and legitimate. In this paper, we employ a novel experimental design to investigate how citizens feel about the relative importance of descriptive and substantive representation. Drawing on data from a nationally representative sample and two supplemental experiments, we show that citizens value descriptive representation independently of substantive representation. We also demonstrate that the degree of descriptive representation desired is conditional on the nature of the policy being considered.
Political Behavior – Springer Journals
Published: May 13, 2016
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