Political Representation: Tensions between Parliament and the People from the Age of Revolutions to the 21st Century

Main funder

Funder's project number: 345111

Funds granted by main funder (€)

  • 660 000,00

Funding program

Project timetable

Project start date: 01/09/2021

Project end date: 31/12/2024


All democratic (and many non-democratic) states rely on some degree of representative government, so the tension between parliament and the people is central to fundamental debates on the legitimacy of political decision-making. With an international and multidisciplinary team, the applicant proposes to conduct a pioneering investigation into historical and present-day constructions of parliamentary legitimacy surrounding political representation and popular sovereignty. The project culminates in a synthetising monograph, exploring the evolution of parliamentary sovereignty and representation in Northwest Europe in the last 250 years since the Age of Revolutions, considering past fragmentations of representation that remind us of our own today. Our research team adopts an
empirical, source-based, language-sensitive approach to political history, analysing constitutional debates in national parliaments as nexuses in which multi-sited and transnational political discourses have intersected in the same space and time. Computer-assisted analyses of the extensive corpora of digitised parliamentary records from Belgium, Britain, Denmark, France, Finland, Germany, Ireland, the Netherlands, Norway and Sweden are used to locate confrontations on representation and popular sovereignty, some of which may previously have gone unnoticed. Macro-level comparative analysis of big data has only become possible in the 2020s. Our contextualising close reading of micro-level cases focuses on the dynamic relationship between intra- and extra-parliamentary political discourses in both national contexts and cross-national transfers.

Six interlinked work packages address methodology, four key historical periods and the topic as a whole: WP1 Comparative big data analysis of political speech; WP2 From representation by estates to representation by the nation, 1760s-1860s; WP3 Pressures to democratise parliamentary representation, 1860s-1920; WP4 From crisis to the consolidation of national democracy, 1920-1990; WP5 The dislocation of nations, peoples and ideologies as challenges to representation, 1990-2020; WP6 Two monographs and an edited anthology on the overall theme. The project uses contextually sensitive big data analysis of the history of political discourse, to compare crises of representation in the long term and providing historical perspectives on present-day tensions between political representation
and popular sovereignty.

Principal Investigator

Other persons related to this project (JYU)

Primary responsible unit

Last updated on 2021-18-06 at 14:22