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Danny Ferris / Political Theory Workshop

October 8, 2021 - 1:30pm to 3:15pm

My doctoral work analyses the transformation of contemporary systems of political representation. Political decision-making is increasingly transnationalized, most obviously in the European Union, it is performed by multiple overlapping agencies in complex processes of networked governance, and non-elected representatives have become increasingly influential. I argue that patterns of political representation are in fact becoming undemocratically fragmented as growing complexity makes it harder for ordinary people to engage with, understand, and intervene in political life. My dissertation proposes a theory of centripetal representation that can help guide the evaluation and reform of fragmented systems of electoral, administrative, and societal representation. It explores discursive changes and institutional reforms that could promote the democratic inclusion of a wider range of representative claims, actors, and institutions by simplifying processes of political decision-making.

‚ÄčThe theory of centripetal representation provides a useful corrective to deliberative democratic and constructivist theories of representation, who overlook the danger of fragmentation. It presents a theory of democratic simplification that is superior to incomplete or dangerously illiberal partisan and populist alternatives. Finally, it speaks to social and political scientists by proposing specific hypotheses that need empirical testing and articulating normative principles that can orient empirical research.

Contact Email: 
Adam Ferrell, aferrell@stanford.edu