Recent theoretical reconceptualisations of political representation and contemporary empirical analyses of parliamentary representation have largely neglected the representation of parliaments as institutions. As a consequence, relatively little attention has been focused upon what is being communicated to citizens about parliaments and upon the nature of the parliamentary institutions that citizens are expected to engage with. This is the neglected institutional dimension of parliamentary representation. Using interview data from 39 key actors in the Scottish, Westminster and European Parliaments, we analyse who act as 'claim-makers' on behalf of parliaments, the nature of these claims in different political contexts, and the 'symbolic intent' and claims associated with the architectural design of parliamentary buildings. We identify a basic paradox of institutional representation in that those who 'speak for' (most loudly and most persistently) and 'act for' parliaments as institutions are not primarily elected representatives but rather non-elected officials.
- representative claim-making
- symbolic representation