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UK Politics – Theories of Representation

3. Delegate and Burkean Theories of Representation

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About this Lecture

Lecture

In this lecture, we explore two different theories of representation: delegate and Burkean. We first see that one way to conceptualise representatives is to see them as delegates. In this framework, elected individuals do not primarily rely on their own judgement, but are instead linked to a set of pledges or a particular group – such as their constituents or party – which determine how they cast their votes. An alternative framework was offered by the 18th century philosopher and politician Edmund Burke. Burke argued that representatives ought principally to use their own judgement. We highlight that this does not mean that representatives should ignore their constituents or party, but rather that, ultimately, they are trusted to rely on their own judgement by those they represent.

Course

In this course, Professor Andrew Blick (KCL) explores the theory and practice of representation in modern democracies. We begin by exploring the origins of representation in politics. Then, in the second lecture, we contrast representative democracy with direct or participative democracy as represented by recent referendums such as the EU referendum of 2016. In the third lecture, we explore two different theories of representation: delegate and Burkean. In the fourth lecture, we then consider the role of parties, elections, and mandates in the UK’s modern representative democracy, emphasising in particular the twin forces of individual judgement and party allegiance in shaping how constituents’ interests are represented in Parliament. In the fifth lecture, we ask who representatives are and what this tells us about the nature and quality of representation in Parliament. To answer this question, we explore two forms of representation: descriptive and substantive. Then, in the sixth and final lecture, we tie together the various elements of representation we have discussed thus far in the specific context of the UK Parliament.

Lecturer

Professor Andrew Blick has extensive experience working for think tanks in the UK Parliament and as an administrative assistant at No.10 Downing Street. He has advised democratic reform groups working in countries including Iran, Pakistan, Turkey and Ukraine; and the International Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance in Stockholm. From 2010-15 he was research fellow to the first ever parliamentary inquiry into the possibility of introducing a written constitution for the UK, carried out by the House of Commons Political and Constitutional Reform Committee. In 2021 he began participation in an AHRC-funded project assessing the history of democracy from ancient times to the contemporary era, through considering written primary sources. He recently published ‘Electrified Democracy: the Internet and the United Kingdom Parliament in history’.

Cite this Lecture

APA style

Blick, A. (2022, January 18). UK Politics – Theories of Representation - Delegate and Burkean Theories of Representation [Video]. MASSOLIT. https://massolit.io/courses/theories-of-representation/delegate-and-burkean-theories-of-representation

MLA style

Blick, A. "UK Politics – Theories of Representation – Delegate and Burkean Theories of Representation." MASSOLIT, uploaded by MASSOLIT, 18 Jan 2022, https://massolit.io/courses/theories-of-representation/delegate-and-burkean-theories-of-representation

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