A comparative study of the representational paradigms between liberalism and socialism

Traditionally, debates over the issue of representation in liberalism and in socialism focused on such questions as who or whose interests should be represented in order to attest to the legitimacy of representation. In this article, a different and more fundamental approach is achieved by asking how the representation is accomplished. At this methodological point, liberalism and socialism diverge in their understanding of representative government: Each follows its own philosophical paradigm(s) that underly and justify its position. Differences between liberal and socialist understandings of representation are analytically compared in three pairs of categories: (a) micro versus macro, (b) individual versus class, and (c) the formalistic versus the substantive. The most crucial differences between the social systems are found in the last pair of categories-the formalistic versus the substantive approach to representation—because different understandings of central concepts such as democracy, freedom, and equality stem from these two frameworks.
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DOI 10.1177/004839319002000102
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