Representation in Crisis: The Constitution, Interest Groups, and Political Parties

By David K. Ryden | Go to book overview
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CHAPTER FOUR
Group Theory and the Pluralist Challenge to Representation

The theoretical portrait of political representation is a labyrinth, comprised of a myriad of forms and shapes, accomplished through an assortment of practices and processes, and executed through a roster of political actors. The Supreme Court's constitutional theory of representation has failed to capture the intricacies of representation. It initially relied upon a one- dimensional, individualistic, formal notion of representation which slighted the essential representative character of groups and associations. More recently, the Court has become conscious of the importance of collective political behavior, but has lacked a structural framework for incorporating group politics into its definition of representation.

The Court is in need of a constitutional definition of representation that grasps the essential nature of group activity and is more indicative of the complex reality of representation. The answer to that search lies in theories of group politics and the derivative group-inclusive description of pluralist democracy. In this chapter, we briefly review the group theory of politics, tracing its growth from its early twentieth-century roots into a full-fledged pluralist account of operational government.

That review points to the pluralist dilemma that confronts the Court in its search for a group-conscious theory of representation. That dilemma exists between two observations

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