Local jurisdiction size and political representation

Bas Denters*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterAcademicpeer-review


In the literature on size and democracy most attention so far has gone out to size effects on citizens’ psychological and active involvement in democratic politics. Effects of size on political representation have so far been under-studied. In this contribution we focus on how size of (local) political jurisdictions affects political representation. This paper provides an overview of the most important theoretical arguments relevant for answering this question. In doing so, we consider four different interpretations of political representation. In the literature we identify two main lines of arguments. In the first line of argument it is emphasized that for all four interpretations of representation, large jurisdictions provide a better structure of political opportunities. In the second line of argument it is argued that for all four interpretations, the social dynamics in civic communities in smaller jurisdictions create better chances for the actual well-functioning of representative democracy.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationResearch Handbook on Political Representation
PublisherEdward Elgar
Number of pages15
ISBN (Electronic)9781788977098
ISBN (Print)9781788977081
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2020


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