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in government, the term used to designate the means by which a whole population may participate in governing through the device of having a much smaller number of people act on their behalf. Although an elective presidency and even a nonelective monarchy may possess psychological characteristics of representation for its people, the term is generally used to refer to the procedure by which a general population selects an assembly of representatives through votingvoting,
method of registering collective approval or disapproval of a person or a proposal. The term generally refers to the process by which citizens choose candidates for public office or decide political questions submitted to them.
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. In the United States this assembly is the Congress of the United StatesCongress of the United States,
the legislative branch of the federal government, instituted (1789) by Article 1 of the Constitution of the United States, which prescribes its membership and defines its powers.
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, while in Great Britain it is ParliamentParliament,
legislative assembly of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland. Over the centuries it has become more than a legislative body; it is the sovereign power of Great Britain, whereas the monarch remains sovereign in name only.
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. Historically, representation was first seen in the Roman republic, but it came into more general use in feudal times when a king would select representatives from each estate—the clergy, nobility, and burghers—so they might offer advice or petition him. Out of this system, as people gradually secured the right to choose their representatives themselves, grew the modern representative legislaturelegislature,
representative assembly empowered to enact statute law. Generally the representatives who compose a legislature are constitutionally elected by a broad spectrum of the population.
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. Modern representation is usually based upon numbers and territorial groupings of the population, such as a congressional district in the United States. An election district in both the United States and Great Britain sends only a single member to the legislative body and is therefore called a single-member district. The representative is chosen on the basis of winning a plurality within the district. In contrast to this system is that of proportional representation, in which there are plural-member districts (in national elections, the country as a whole may form one constituency) and the seats in the assembly are distributed among the parties on the basis of the proportion of the vote that each party receives. This system gives more assurance that minority votes will be taken into account and tends to encourage the proliferation of parties. One perennial controversy on the subject concerns whether elected representatives should act according to the explicit desires of their constituents or according to their own personal judgments when they conflict with those desires.
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The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.



in civil law, the performance by one person (the representative) in the name and interests of another person (the principal) and on the basis of definite authorizations, of transactions or other legally significant actions that directly create, change, or terminate the civil rights and duties of the principal. Representation is necessary in cases where a person, for any number of reasons, including lack of time and inadequate qualifications, is unable to exercise his civil (primarily property) rights and duties on his own.

In Soviet law either legally competent (sui juris) citizens or legal persons may be representatives. Legal actions that can only be performed in person, for example, the signing of a will or registration of a marriage, cannot be done through a representative. Representation arises through a power of attorney based on law (for example, representation by parents of minor children in the capacity of legal representatives) or through an administrative act (for example, a guardian represents a ward on the basis of the decision of the executive committee of the appropriate soviet of people’s deputies in the establishment of wardship).



(predstavlenie), an image re-created in the brain from traces left by objects and phenomena that have produced an effect on the human sense organs but that are no longer physically present; also, an image created by the efforts of productive imagination; a higher form of sensory reflection, manifested as imagery and as visualized knowledge. In contrast to perception, a representation transcends the immediate, given quality of specific objects and relates them to a common principle or notion. A representation is realized in two forms: recollection and imagination. Perception pertains only to the present, whereas representation pertains simultaneously to the present and to the past.

Representation is reminiscent contemplation, the specific characteristic of which is its intermediate position between contemplative and thinking consciousness. Without recollection, recognition would be impossible. Hegel wrote: “What is called recollection, in the proper sense of the word, is the relating of an image to contemplation, and in the capacity, moreover, of a reduction of the direct, singular contemplation to that which is general in form—to a representation having the same content” (Soch., vol. 3, Moscow, 1956, p. 257).

The imagination contributes to the creation of representations and mental situations that cannot be directly perceived, as a whole, in reality. The more adequate the reflection in a representation, the more productive is its regulative and stimulating role in all forms of human creativity.

Perception and representation are not independent powers or capabilities of consciousness. They form an indissoluble whole, in which representation is the synthesis of many sensory impressions. Describing the dialectic of the relationship between representation and thought, V. I. Lenin wrote: “Is sensuous representation closer to reality than thought? Both yes and no. Sensuous representation cannot apprehend movement as a whole, it cannot, for example, apprehend movement with a speed of 300,000 km per second, but thought does and must apprehend it” (Poln. sobr. soch., 5th ed., vol. 29, p. 209).


The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.


A representation of a group is given by a homomorphism of it onto some group either of matrices or unitary operators of a Hilbert space.
McGraw-Hill Dictionary of Scientific & Technical Terms, 6E, Copyright © 2003 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.


1. the principle by which delegates act for a constituency
2. Contract law a statement of fact made by one party to induce another to enter into a contract
3. an instance of acting for another, on his authority, in a particular capacity, such as executor or administrator
4. a dramatic production or performance
Collins Discovery Encyclopedia, 1st edition © HarperCollins Publishers 2005