How does representation shape distribution? This junior seminar considers how and under what conditions gaining a “seat at the table” leads to policy change, and when it may not, or when it may produce change in some realms but not others. We begin with insights from political theory, including discussion of the concepts of symbolic, descriptive, and substantive representation. We then consider institutional and policy changes intended to enhance representation of marginalized groups, from suffrage extensions to voting rules to electoral quotas. We analyze theories of the sources of these changes and evaluate evidence on their impact. Our discussions will draw on analyses of institutional change and political behavior in Africa, Europe, Latin America, North America, and South Asia.
Subfield: Comparative Politics (updated 8/14/2020)