Blind spots in the study of democratic representation: Masses and elites in old and new democracies

Jaemin Shim*, Mahmoud Farag

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articlepeer-review


    Preference congruence between masses and elites lies at the heart of the study of democratic representation. In this article, substantiated by a meta-analysis of 154 studies published between 1960 and 2022, we show that the literature on mass–elite congruence has increased exponentially in the past decade. Despite the growing academic interest, the publications mainly focus on Western Europe and leave two critical blind spots. First, at the mass level, little attention has been paid to distinguishing between voters and non-voters and between independents and partisans. Second, at the elite level, presidents have been overlooked, including those studies examining presidential or semi-presidential democracies. In this article, we demonstrate the existence of two blind spots with a meta-analysis, explain their significance for political representation and test the extent to which they affect mass–elite congruence measurement. The article contributes to the comparative study of representation by illustrating how filling in these two blind spots is necessary to ensure a reliable and comprehensive assessment of mass–elite congruence.
    Original languageEnglish
    Number of pages17
    JournalInternational Political Science Review
    Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 28 Jan 2024

    Scopus Subject Areas

    • Political Science and International Relations
    • Sociology and Political Science

    User-Defined Keywords

    • Issue congruence
    • global approach
    • mass–elite
    • measurement
    • president
    • representation


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