The Pitkinian public: representation in the eyes of citizens

Liron Lavi, Clareta Treger, Naama Rivlin-Angert, Tamir Sheafer, Israel Waismel-Manor, Shaul Shenhav, Liran Harsgor, Michal Shamir

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Democracy is backsliding in Europe and around the world as citizens’ trust in elected representatives and institutions wanes. Representation theories and studies have mostly centred on the representatives, rather than the represented. But how do citizens perceive political representation? Are their perceptions of any consequence at all? In this paper, we set forth a framework of representation in the eyes of citizens, based on Pitkin’s classic concept of representation in conjunction with Weissberg’s distinction between dyadic and collective representations. We use Israel as a proof of concept for our theoretical framework, employing an original set of survey items. We find that, in keeping with Pitkin’s framework, citizens perceive representation as multidimensional and depreciate the descriptive and symbolic—the standing-for—dimensions. Furthermore, citizens’ democratic attitudes are shaped by collective representation by the parliament rather than by dyadic representation by an elected representative. We conclude with a call for a greater focus on representation from the citizens’ standpoint.

Original languageEnglish
JournalEuropean Political Science
StateAccepted/In press - 2024

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© The Author(s) 2024.


  • Citizens’ perceptions of representation
  • Collective representation
  • Dyadic representation
  • Multidimensional representation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Political Science and International Relations


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