How has the process of political representation changed in the era of globalization? The representation of interests is at the heart of democracy, but how is it that some interests secure a strong voice, while others do not? While each person has multiple interests linked to different dimensions of his or her identity, much of the existing academic literature assumes that interests are given prior to politics by a person’s socioeconomic, institutional, or cultural situation. This book mounts a radical challenge to this view, arguing that interests are actively forged through processes of politics. The book develops an analytic framework for understanding how representation takes place—based on processes of identification, mobilization, and adjudication—and explores how these processes have evolved over time. Through a wide variety of case studies, the chapters explore how actors identify their interests, mobilize them into action, and resolve conflicts among them.
Political science can gain from incorporating richer conceptions of social relations into its analyses. In place of atomistic entities endowed with assets but few social relationships, social actors should be seen as relational entities embedded in social and cultural structures that connect them to others in multifaceted ways. Understanding those relationships requires a deeper understanding of how institutional and cultural frameworks interact to condition the terrain for social action. More intensive dialogue with sociology can inform such an understanding. We review the analytical tools cultural sociology now offers those interested in such a perspective and illustrate it in operation in studies of inequalities in population health and the effects of neoliberalism. We close by outlining several issues to which this perspective can usefully be applied, including the problems of understanding social resilience, how societies build collective capacities, and why some institutions remain robust while others deteriorate.
Why are some societies more successful than others at promoting individual and collective well-being? This book integrates recent research in social epidemiology with broader perspectives in social science to explore why some societies are more successful than others at securing population health. It explores the social roots of health inequalities, arguing that inequalities in health are based not only on economic inequalities, but on the structure of social relations. It develops sophisticated new perspectives on social relations, which emphasize the ways in which cultural frameworks as well as institutions condition people’s health. It reports on research into health inequalities in the developed and developing worlds, covering a wide range of national case studies, and into the ways in which social relations condition the effectiveness of public policies aimed at improving health.