Forms of Representation As Socio-Discursive Formations: The Case of Mexican Democracy Deficits

Wednesday, 13 July 2016: 11:30
Location: Hörsaal 21 (Main Building)
Oral Presentation
Fernando CASTANOS, Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México, Mexico
A form of representation is a socio-discursive formation, like a national myth, a social problem or a civilization trauma: its being what it is depends on its being recognized as such, which in turn is the result of narrations and argumentations sanctioned by civil society. Its emergence and maintenance are functions of communicative activities by pluralities of groups, that produce action models, participant typologies and approval rituals, as well as identity symbols and compact designations, which allow for its roles in both the aggregation of individuals and in the emergence of non-aggregative properties of collective beings.

As a consequence, observing representation from the perspectives of political science or political sociology, and hence focusing on variables such as number of parties or mean party age, is not sufficient to identify a democracy’s strengths and weaknesses. In particular, to understand the quality deficits of Mexico’s democracy, the standpoints of cultural sociology are necessary, for represented and representatives are arrived-at configurations: they are semiological and pragmatic attributions.

From a conjunction of the said standpoints and perspectives, ideal and actual forms of representation in Mexico are characterized as sets of commitments and options in language games of negotiation, alignment, deliberation and contest. Furthermore, hypotheses are formulated for future research on the potential of initiatives to reduce the gap between those forms.