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(Re)presenting Women: Retooling Women’s Substantive Representation
Unformatted Document Text:  Christina Xydias p.17 patterns in these interviews, which she then checks against actual legislation proposals in the 1989 Colorado state legislature. She finds similar gendered patterns in legislation proposals. In another example, Celis (2006) observes what she terms “interventions.” Seeking to understand whether female legislators facilitate the substantive representation of women, Celis examines budgetary debates for interventions on behalf of women. She notes that her research does not measure whether these interventions reallocated funds in a way that benefited women (2006:91), but these ideas cannot be incorporated into policy if they are never voiced, at all. In my research, I focus on parliamentary speech (i.e., plenary debates), specifically. I have numerous reasons for this, all of which are based in the legitimacy that public political speech confers upon representation. Some arguments, for example, suggest that public speech acts, such as in plenary debates, have take on greater democratic importance as communication technologies have improved. Manin (1997) heralds the emergence of an “audience democracy” (1997:220), arguing that individual legislators (and their speech acts) have gained importance in contemporary parliamentary systems. He writes, “the link between the representative…and his electors has an essentially personal character” due to modern and ubiquitous forms of mass communication, which personalize the representative relationship (p.219-220). Even prior to the emergence of sophisticated communicate technology, however, plenary debates are often the most public window on legislative activities. While legislative voting patterns clearly matter in accountability models of representation (as I will discuss in more detail in the following section), party discipline often does not permit the freedom in voting that it permits in speech. Therefore, speech acts in parliamentary debates facilitate nuanced substantive representation (of any group) in a way that voting will not. In summary: the indicator for women’s substantive representation that I use in my project are speech acts that advocate women’s interest. 24 Specifically, I seek these indicators in plenary session debates. Why we wouldn’t expect descriptive representation to facilitate substantive representation Studies of the possible links between descriptive and substantive representation do not often countenance a full panoply of counter-arguments. These counter-arguments must be considered, however, in order to appreciate that the conditions under which descriptive representation might obtain substantive representation are probably quite narrow. Here, I present a liberal democratic argument for why descriptive representation is not likely to yield substantive representation in modern democracies. With two improbable exceptions, which I will discuss, I argue that neither liberal democratic principles nor liberal democratic institutions imbue descriptive representation with substantive value. In the liberal tradition, Pitkin (1967) argues that a representative merely “standing” – as opposed to “acting” – for her or his constituents does not fulfill necessary representative tasks. Pitkin assumes that there will be no reliable connection between standing and acting for constituents, and in doing so she shares the conclusion of the preponderance of theories of representation. From Schumpeter (1942) to Manin (1997), 24 Women’s interests, per my earlier discussion, are broadly construed.

Authors: Xydias, Christina.
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background image
Christina Xydias
p.17
patterns in these interviews, which she then checks against actual legislation proposals in
the 1989 Colorado state legislature. She finds similar gendered patterns in legislation
proposals. In another example, Celis (2006) observes what she terms “interventions.”
Seeking to understand whether female legislators facilitate the substantive representation
of women, Celis examines budgetary debates for interventions on behalf of women. She
notes that her research does not measure whether these interventions reallocated funds in
a way that benefited women (2006:91), but these ideas cannot be incorporated into policy
if they are never voiced, at all.
In my research, I focus on parliamentary speech (i.e., plenary debates),
specifically. I have numerous reasons for this, all of which are based in the legitimacy
that public political speech confers upon representation. Some arguments, for example,
suggest that public speech acts, such as in plenary debates, have take on greater
democratic importance as communication technologies have improved. Manin (1997)
heralds the emergence of an “audience democracy” (1997:220), arguing that individual
legislators (and their speech acts) have gained importance in contemporary parliamentary
systems. He writes, “the link between the representative…and his electors has an
essentially personal character” due to modern and ubiquitous forms of mass
communication, which personalize the representative relationship (p.219-220). Even
prior to the emergence of sophisticated communicate technology, however, plenary
debates are often the most public window on legislative activities.
While legislative voting patterns clearly matter in accountability models of
representation (as I will discuss in more detail in the following section), party discipline
often does not permit the freedom in voting that it permits in speech. Therefore, speech
acts in parliamentary debates facilitate nuanced substantive representation (of any group)
in a way that voting will not.
In summary: the indicator for women’s substantive representation that I use in my
project are speech acts that advocate women’s interest.
24
Specifically, I seek these
indicators in plenary session debates.

Why we wouldn’t expect descriptive representation to facilitate substantive
representation
Studies of the possible links between descriptive and substantive representation
do not often countenance a full panoply of counter-arguments. These counter-arguments
must be considered, however, in order to appreciate that the conditions under which
descriptive representation might obtain substantive representation are probably quite
narrow. Here, I present a liberal democratic argument for why descriptive representation
is not likely to yield substantive representation in modern democracies. With two
improbable exceptions, which I will discuss, I argue that neither liberal democratic
principles nor liberal democratic institutions imbue descriptive representation with
substantive value.
In the liberal tradition, Pitkin (1967) argues that a representative merely
“standing” – as opposed to “acting” – for her or his constituents does not fulfill necessary
representative tasks. Pitkin assumes that there will be no reliable connection between
standing and acting for constituents, and in doing so she shares the conclusion of the
preponderance of theories of representation. From Schumpeter (1942) to Manin (1997),
24
Women’s interests, per my earlier discussion, are broadly construed.


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