One of the most hotly-contested debates in contemporary democracy revolves around issues of political presence, and whether the fair representation of disadvantaged groups requires their presence in elected assemblies. Representation as currently understood derives its legitimacy from a politics of ideas, which considers accountability in relation to declared policies and programmes, and makes it a matter of relative indifference who articulates political preferences
or beliefs. But what happens to the meaning of representation and accountability when we make the gender or ethnic composition of elected assemblies an additional area of concern?
In this innovative contribution to the theory of representation - which draws on debates about gender quotas in Europe, minority voting rights in the USA, and the multi-layered politics of inclusion in Canada - Anne Phillips argues that the politics of ideas is an inadequate vehicle for dealing with political exclusion. But rejecting any essentialist grounding to group identity or group interest, she also argues against any either/or choice between ideas and political presence. The politics of
presence then combines with contemporary explorations of deliberative democracy to establish a different balance between accountability and autonomy.
Oxford Political Theory presents the best new work in contemporary political theory. It is intended to be broad in scope, including original contributions to political philosophy, and also work in applied political theory. The series contains work of outstanding quality with no restriction as to approach or subject matter. The series editors are David Miller and Alan Ryan.
`the latest, thoughtful contribution in Anne Phillip's ongoing enquiry into issues of equality, gender and democracy...an excellent contribution to democratic theory'.