Varieties of Political Representation

The principal purpose of the research environment Varieties of Political Representation (VPR) is to be a forum for research on the study of political representation.

About us

To be a forum for research on the study of political representation is the principal purpose of Varieties of Political Representation (VPR). VPR builds on decades of collaboration in research and teaching at the Department of Political Science, Linnaeus University. This strong research and teaching environment has produced several successful research projects, funded by Riksbankens Jubileumsfond, the Swedish Research Council (Vetenskapsrådet), and the Crafoord Foundation. Also, VPR has developed networks of research collaboration both nationally and internationally.

VPR is a central part of Linnaeus Knowledge Environments A questioned democracy and Platform MigrationThe core constellation of VPR consists of political scientists at Linnaeus University, who are open to multidisciplinary collaboration with scholars engaged in research on political representation as part of an expanding network at the front of international research.

The academic debate about political representation calls for studies of the chain of representation as well as special studies of each link in this chain: political opinions and the behavior of citizens, political parties and party systems, government cabinets, legislatures as well as local assemblies, and political representatives and other political leaders. Several ambiguities in the academic debate also call for theory development and increased clarity concerning political representation and ideas related to this research problem.

Themes of research

The main aim of VPR is to contribute to the international theoretical and empirical literature on political representation. To achieve this aim, VPR has identified three specific themes, all of which are related to the chain of political representation. The three themes are addressed in-depth in individual projects: Political opinion and behavior among citizens; Representatives, leaders and institutions among political elites; Political parties. While the three themes focus on different aspects of political representation, VPR also integrates the themes to study political representation as a whole through individual projects and collaborations between researchers.

Political opinion and behavior among citizens

This theme relates to studies about political participation as a grassroots activity in civil society, such as integration and political mobilization in relation to differences in democratic participation. It also involves election behavior and public opinion research about, for example, social cleavages, ideological positions, political parties, special issues and inter-personal trust.

Representatives, leaders and institutions among the political elite

Within this theme, research focuses on political assemblies at local, national and the EU level. Also, the focus lies on the political behavior and opinion of political representatives in established democracies, and the strategies of political elites in unstable democracies.

Political parties

The third theme is devoted to the study of links between citizens and political elites. Such research focuses on changes related to internal democracy within parties and inter-party relations in party systems within established democracies. Furthermore, an important focus of the theme is the role of parties in newly established democracies, political communication and election campaigns.

Integration of the themes

When integrating the three themes, we argue that it increases the possibilities for theoretical development in the area of political representation, which is crucial to the empirical investigation of the quality of political representation.

Current research projects

VPR builds on a range of theoretical approaches developed within studies of political representation. The participants in VPR share a common foundation in theoretical discussions about political representation and its components. To this purpose, various individual projects will contribute, both theoretically and empirically, to the study of political representation as a whole as well as to specific perspectives on different parts of the chain of political representation, from the grassroots perspective of mobilization of citizens to the exercise of power among political elites.


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