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Should Blacks Represent Blacks and Women Represent Women? A Contingent "Yes"

Jane Mansbridge
The Journal of Politics
Vol. 61, No. 3 (Aug., 1999), pp. 628-657
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/2647821
Page Count: 30
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Should Blacks Represent Blacks and Women Represent Women? A Contingent "Yes"
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Abstract

Disadvantaged groups gain advantages from descriptive representation in at least four contexts. In contexts of group mistrust and uncrystallized interests, the better communication and experiential knowledge of descriptive representatives enhances their substantive representation of the group's interests by improving the quality of deliberation. In contexts of historical political subordination and low de facto legitimacy, descriptive representation helps create a social meaning of "ability to rule" and increases the attachment to the polity of members of the group. When the implementation of descriptive representation involves some costs in other values, paying those costs makes most sense in these specific historical contexts.

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