Scholars of descriptive representation have paid growing attention to the issue of class. This article contributes to this line of research by examining the educational (mis)match of elected officials and the citizens they serve. Using data from an original paired elite-mass survey experiment, it investigates whether judgements of democratic quality are affected by education-based descriptive representation. The study reveals limited evidence in support of the idea that citizens and politicians value education-based descriptive representation in sociotropic terms. Instead, it provides strong evidence of affinity effects where democratic judgments are influenced by whether descriptive representation, or the lack thereof, favours citizens and politicians based on their own educational background. An important exception though are citizens without higher education, whose assessments of democratic quality are unaffected by education-based descriptive representation. The article ends with a discussion of the implications of these findings for existing and future research.
Mayne, Quinton, and Yvette Peters. "Where you sit is where you stand: education-based descriptive representation and perceptions of democratic quality." West European Politics (May 2022).