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Descriptive vs. Substantive Representation

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Tim Hood

on 1 March 2014

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Transcript of Descriptive vs. Substantive Representation

What are they?
Descriptive- the idea that elected representatives will represent the interests of their race, socioeconomic group, or geographic area of birth.
Substantive- the tendency of elected officials to support an agenda based on their personal and political party’s views.
GRR Commission Recommendation
Elections and representation ought to be based on substantive politics to as great of an extent as possible.
This policy to be aided by increased political focus on a candidate's policies, rather than their identification with a specific people.
Problems Presented
Descriptive representation can often twist society's perception of a candidate's agenda.
Racial congruence between voters and politicians is no guarantee of accurate representation.
Allows voters to often align themselves with a candidate by default, rather than looking more closely at their actual policies.
Descriptive vs. Substantive Representation
Should the racial composition of Congress be reflective of the United States' population?
Works Cited
"Biographies of Current Justices of the Supreme Court." Biographies of Current Justices of the Supreme Court. United States Department of Justice, n.d. Web. 27 Feb. 2014.
Dovi, Suzanne. "Political Representation." Stanford University. Stanford University, 02 Jan. 2006. Web. 28 Feb. 2014.
"Educational Attainment." - U.S. Census Bureau. U.S. Department of Commerce, 14 Jan. 2014. Web. 28 Feb. 2014.
Jones, Philip E. Constituents’ Responses to Descriptive and Substantive Representation in Congress. Www.udel.edu. The University of Delaware, n.d. Web. 27 Feb. 2014.
"Newsroom." Facts for Features: Hispanic Heritage Month 2013: Sept. 15. U.S. Department of Commerce, n.d. Web. 28 Feb. 2014.
Research Study
Extensive study done by the University of Delaware has produced the greatest volume of data on the topic.
Determined that particularly minority groups tend to perceive a higher amount of congruence between their beliefs and a candidate's, simply based on race.
In addition, the voters in the study regularly associated minority candidates as being more liberal than white counterparts, despite identical agendas.
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