In this paper, we argue that representative bureaucracy is a changing concept, and that in the academic and policy debate on representative bureaucracy in fact three different debates are intermingled. While the debate on representative bureaucracy in Public Administration is generally situated within wider debates about tensions between bureaucracy and democracy, this is only part of the story. We argue that discussions and scholarship on representative bureaucracy in fact employ three different concepts of representative bureaucracy. The reasons for making the bureaucracy representative in these three rival concepts are quite divergent, and even the conception of what representativity means is totally different. These rival concepts reflect a particular view on the role of the state and the relation between states and citizens.

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Department of Public Administration

Groeneveld, S., & Van de Walle, S. (2009). Contingent representativity: Rival views of representatve bureaucracy and the challenges for nationbuilders. Retrieved from