'Word from the street': when non-electoral representative claims meet electoral representation in the United Kingdom

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Taking the specific case of street protests in the UK – the ‘word from the street’– this article examines recent (re)conceptualizations of political representation, most particularly Saward’s notion of ‘representative claim’. The specific example of nonelectoral claims articulated by protestors and demonstrators in the UK is used to illustrate: the processes of making, constituting, evaluating and accepting claims for and by constituencies and audiences; and the continuing distinctiveness of claims based upon electoral representation. Two basic questions structure the analysis: first, why would the political representative claims of elected representatives trump the nonelectoral claims of mass demonstrators and, second, in what ways does the ‘perceived legitimacy’ of the former differ from the latter?
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)388-409
Number of pages22
JournalBritish Politics
Issue number4
Early online date25 Mar 2013
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2013


  • parliament
  • representation
  • representative claims
  • parliamentary democracy
  • street protests

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