Reflection on Political Representation

Constituency Service as Topic in Irish and British Parliamentary Debates

In: Comparative Sociology
Isabel Kusche Aarhus Institute of Advanced Studies, Aarhus University Denmark

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This article compares how Members of Parliament in the United Kingdom and Ireland reflect on constituency service as an aspect of political representation. It differs from existing research on the constituency role of mps in two regards. First, it approaches the question from a sociological viewpoint that emphasizes the process character of role-taking and its need for validation by others. Second, instead of relying on interviews and surveys it analyses how mps refer to aspects of constituency work in parliamentary debate. This choice of empirical material opens up a long-term view on reflections of constituency service that either validate or question understandings of the constituency role. Although mps in both countries are heavily engaged in constituency work, the analysis reveals important differences in this regard, with Irish mps recurrently criticizing their own role in the constituency, while British mps unequivocally see it in a positive light.

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