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Voice, Trust, and Memory Paperback – August 13, 2000

4.3 out of 5 stars 3 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews


Winner of the 1999 Best First Book in Political Philosophy Award, Foundations of Political Theory Section of the American Political Science Association

"This book is a stimulating and provocative contribution to the literature about the representation of marginalized groups, but it is more than this. . . . Questions about the representations of groups go to the heart of theories of representation. . . . It is an achievement to have cast these relationships in such a clear and revealing light."--Charles R. Beitz, American Political Science Review

"Substantial. . . . The Supreme Court has taken a strong line against the use of race to shape electoral districts. Williams has some powerful arguments against their recent decisions. . . . Williams, to her credit, does not rest at simply making the argument in favor of like representing like. . . . She takes on the mind-boggling task of reviewing a host of schemes."--Nathan Glazer, Times Literary Supplement

"Voice, Trust, and Memory is an important and original contribution to contemporary debates on democracy."--Dominique Leydet, Canadian Journal of Political Science

"An extremely well-written, clear, and well-organized exploration of an alternative to liberal representation. . . . It is an important book for scholars interested in issues of political representation."--Pamela Paxton, Contemporary Sociology

"An excellent piece of scholarship. . . . Williams's argument skillfully weaves together the literatures of liberal political theory, feminist theory, critical race theory, and the new institutionalism."--Sally J. Kenney, Women & Politics

About the Author

Melissa S. Williams is Associate Professor of Political Science at the University of Toronto.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 330 pages
  • Publisher: Princeton University Press (September 15, 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0691057389
  • ISBN-13: 978-0691057385
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.9 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.3 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,458,542 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Top Customer Reviews

By A Customer on July 16, 2000
Format: Hardcover
This book presents the most sophisticated and fully developed theory of minority representation available in contemporary political theory. Williams provides a powerful argument in favour of group representation for minorities: what Anne Phillips has called 'the politics of presence'. The argument is based on carefully constructed analytic distinctions, and while these are occasionally suspect (particularly the objective vs. subjective notion of group membership), the overall thesis is very well defended. Williams has not received the same degree of attention and praise as two other theorists working in this area, Iris Marion Young and Anne Phillips, which is unfortunate. This book is just as comprehensive and tightly argued as anything produced by Young and Phillips, if not more so. The book will be invaluable to anyone interested in contemporary democratic theory (particularly deliberative democracy) or theories minority inclusion. You should be aware that the book is directed primarily to an academic audience.
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Format: Paperback
Voice, Trust, and Memory was a co-winner of the Best First Book award from the Foundations of Political Theory section of the American Political Science Association. The award citation reads: "Voice, Trust, and Memory is a powerful and well-argued exploration of the relevance of identity to democratic representation. Williams's approach to the constitution of identity and the nature of democracy and representation is rigorous and thorough. Her analysis is sophisticated. She treats with subtlety and precision issues that too often are reduced and simplified by political discourse. In particular, Williams argues that members of historically disadvantaged groups are best represented by other members of those groups. Such members can bring the memory of discriminatory experience to bear on the expression of the group's preferences, and thereby give such groups a more genuine voice. The absence of embodied, experiential memory, characteristic of representation in liberal democracy, often engenders mistrust in the democratic process on the part of such groups; such a lack of trust often compromises the ideals and the efficacy of democracy. Williams's reconceptualization of representation is designed to help foster the trust that is necessary to support democratic institutions, and that is also desirable by the lights of democratic principles. Her focus on women and African-Americans to construct these arguments attends to the specific problems these groups face in liberal democracy. She makes substantive contributions to the theoretical and political literature on these specific groups. She also raises broader questions that transcend the particular boundaries of these two groups, and that apply to any group-based identity within liberal democracy, indeed, to the very nature of political representation itself. All in all, this is a deeply thoughtful and thought-provoking consideration of issues that lie at the heart of contemporary political and theoretical debate."
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By msangel2 on February 11, 2015
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Purchased for a faculty member and I received no complaints.
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