Experience, knowledge, and political representation

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Evidence suggests that increasing the descriptive representation of groups improves their substantive representation. What underpins this link? Many writing on the subject stop short of arguing explicitly that it is ‘shared experience’ within groups. I argue that we should embrace the potential conceptual and empirical benefits of framing representation through experience. To do this, we should think of experience specifically in terms of the epistemic content and capacities gained through subjective experience. These can allow individuals to think about the world in distinct ways. I reframe the idea that experiences might be shared within groups and ameliorate concerns that that the concept is essentialist, drawing out the political relevance of my argument. This has the strategic implication that we should be unafraid to argue in favour of political presence on the basis of (shared) experience, and the empirical implication that future research should consider subjective experience more closely.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1112 - 1140
JournalPolitics & Gender
Issue number4
Early online date2 Dec 2021
Publication statusPublished - 31 Dec 2022


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