HKS Authors

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Increasing interdependence both within and among nations will create in the foreseeable future increasing numbers of collective action, or free-rider, problems. Dealing with those problems will require both significant increases in state coercion and increases in citizens’ feelings of solidarity and duty toward others both within current nations and across large geographic areas. State coercion of defectors provides an ecological niche within which the duty and solidarity of cooperators can survive and thrive. Considerable thought and ingenuity are required to make the needed coercion minimal, well-designed so as to protect rather than driving out duty and solidarity, and above all legitimate. Innovations in the representative system are and will be crucial to making the state coercion we need more legitimate. This paper lists some innovations in thought and practice that can make representation in the legislative, administrative, and societal realms more legitimate, both normatively and in the perception of the citizens. These include mixed member electoral systems, new conceptions of the representative role, new approaches to corruption, evolutions in the theory and institutions that protect human rights, and better conceptions of and practical attention to deliberation, legislative negotiation, recursive communication, descriptive representation, representation by lot, participatory budgeting, and civic vouchers.


Mansbridge, Jane. "Representation, Legitimacy, and Innovation." Journal of Chinese Governance 4.4 (October 2019): 299-322.