I am excited to be part of the new APuZ series volume “Repräsentation - Identität - Beteiligung”, contributing an article on the role of elites in identity-political representation. The volume gathers many other contributions by distinguished colleagues dealing with the “state and transformation of democracy” (subtitle).

Identity Politics is key for correcting skewed representation in liberal democracies. However, identity politics risks producing skewed representation itself through elite capture, the taking of identity politics by elites. This article employs radical democratic and constructivist representation theory to differentiate problematic elite capture from democratic representation. Identities and preferences of constituencies are not given before representation but constituted through representation, which is why it is impossible to uphold a difference between elite manipulation and true interests. The normative standard for good representation is the empowerment of the constituency’s reflexivity about its own identity. Visible and influential representatives are not a problem of elite capture, while problematic elite capture occurs when privileged subgroups dominate identity political projects, such as White bourgeois women in second-wave feminism. Identity political representation is skewed towards elite capture if it is not intersectional and can be called democratic if they effectively counteract their own representational distortions.

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Schubert, Karsten (2022): Eine Sache der Eliten? Identitätspolitik zwischen demokratischer Repräsentation und elite capture. In: Bundeszentrale für politische Bildung (Hg.): Repräsentation - Identität - Beteiligung. Zum Zustand und Wandel der Demokratie. Schriftenreihe Band 10871. Bonn: bpb, 292–314.