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Relational representation : nongovernmental actors in global politics

  • Author(s): Lyon, Antony John Pierre
  • et al.
Abstract

The emergence of nongovernmental actors within global politics challenges several of our assumptions about what constitutes a legitimate political actor beyond the nation -state. For many, nongovernmental actors are only a signal of some larger political issue. To some, the new political actors serve as evidence for the status of sovereignty. They either signal a shift to a post-sovereign politics or are trivialized in an effort to reaffirm state sovereignty. To others, nongovernmental actors are seen as laying the groundwork for the coming cosmopolitan global community. Few have considered the practices of nongovernmental actors on their own terms. The emergence of nongovernmental actors within global politics challenges several of our assumptions about what constitutes a legitimate political actor beyond the nation -state. For many, nongovernmental actors are only a signal of some larger political issue. To some, the new political actors serve as evidence for the status of sovereignty. They either signal a shift to a post-sovereign politics or are trivialized in an effort to reaffirm state sovereignty. To others, nongovernmental actors are seen as laying the groundwork for the coming cosmopolitan global community. Few have considered the practices of nongovernmental actors on their own terms. In Part Two, through an examination of Hobbes and Rousseau, I argue that the central difficulty limiting the concept of representation is the focus on mediation, which prevents the consideration of alternative claims to represent. Then, in Part Three, I introduce a rethinking of representation that is anchored in responding to the other, rather than in the total mediation suggested by acting for the other. The incorporation of intersubjectivity leads to an understanding of relational representation. This responsive form of representation, I argue, is the type of representation evident in the practices of nongovernmental actors. They are representative in the sense that they work within a relationship that works to continually re- present the represented as persons increasingly capable of using their agency. This situation generates a standard of accountability that can then be used when assessing the legitimacy of a nongovernmental actor's claim to represent other persons or communities. By connecting the practices of nongovernmental actors to the capacity to engage in relational representation, it is evident that nongovernmental actors practice a new politics. Understanding their practice-based representation is valuable for both lending clarity to our contemporary political experiences and for serving as the catalyst to rethink the concept of representation for new political times

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