Claims-Making as Political Representation

Political claims-making can be seen as a form of political representation. It lacks the formal authorization of electoral representation, but can fulfil the functions of substantive representation of groups. This is particularly the case for groups that may otherwise be absent or under-represented in electoral politics. Following work by Michael Saward and to some extent Andrew Rehfeld, Laura Montanaro has established that such non-elected representation can indeed be legitimate. More recently, Pieter de Wilde has put together a nice summary how the claims-making perspective is well suited for approaching claims as political representation. In my view, we have to focus on claims that are positive to really speak of political representation, especially if we are concerned with substantive representation.

Montanaro, Laura. 2012. “The Democratic Legitimacy of Self-Appointed Representatives.” The Journal of Politics 74 (4): 1094–1107. doi:10.1017/S0022381612000515.

Rehfeld, A. 2006. “Towards a general theory of political representation.” Journal of Politics 68 (1): 1–21.

Saward, M. 2006. “The Representative Claim.” Contemporary Political Theory 5 (3): 297–318. doi:10.1057/palgrave.cpt.9300234.

De Wilde, Pieter. 2013. “Representative claims analysis: theory meets method.” Journal of European Public Policy 20 (2): 278–294.

Do Civil Society Organizations See Immigration Positively?

Civil society organizations (CSO) are important political actors in the debate on immigration. As part of the SOM project we examined the politicization of immigration in seven Western European countries, 1995 to 2009. Civil society organizations are responsible for between 11 and 28 per cent of claims in the news.

With the exception of the UK, most of the claims by civil society organizations are positive: Between around 70 and 80 per cent of claims by civil society organizations on immigration are positive.

Edited on 1 Feb 2013: Removed some incorrect numbers; the patterns is generally observed.

Women in Claims-Making

In the project SOM we use a large media analysis to examine claims-making in the news. I looked at the gender aspect. Since the original data does not record the gender of the claimant, I used the first name of the 200 most common first names and manually assigned the gender.

This gives me 531 claims by women (16%), and 2729 claims by men (84%).

I find significant differences across countries in the proportion of claims made by women (as opposed to men):

Women 23.5% 9.4% 17.2% 24.7% 18.5% 16.9% 5.55%
Men 76.5% 90.6% 82.8% 75.3% 81.5% 83.1% 94.5%

My initial thought was that these differences are just another reflection of the different levels of descriptive representation. This isn’t the case, though (r=0.08):

I also looked at the frames used in political claims; men tend to use identity frames a bit more often, women moral arguments more often and instrumental frames. Instrumental frames are dominant for men and women.