Broadly, my research explores gaps between democratic theory and practice, and its norms and outcomes, with a focus on inequality and democratic practices that can counteract inequality.
My book manuscript, Who Elected Oxfam? (2018) was published with Cambridge University Press. The book begins with the observation that ours is an era in which non-elected actors, such as non-governmental organisations and celebrity activists, present themselves as representatives of others to audiences of decision-makers, such as state leaders, the European Union, the United Nations, and the World Trade Organisation. To take one well-known example, Oxfam presses decision-makers and governments for fair trade rules on behalf of the world’s poor. But as The Economist asked, ‘Who elected Oxfam?’ Though unelected, I argue that these actors can and should be conceptualised as representatives and that they can, though do not necessarily, represent others in a manner that we can recognise as democratic. However, in order to do so, we must stretch our imaginations beyond elections and its associated norms.
Who Elected Oxfam? was a finalist for the 2020 C.B. Macpherson Prize for best book in political theory.
My work has also been published in the American Journal of Political Science and The Journal of Politics.
List of Publications:
Montanaro, Laura. 2018. Who Elected Oxfam? Cambridge University Press.
Montanaro, Laura. 2019. "Discursive Exit." American Journal of Political Science 63 (4): 875-887
Montanaro, Laura. 2012. "The Democratic Legitimacy of Self-Appointed Representatives." The Journal of Politics 74 (4): 1094-1107
Montanaro, Laura. 2019. “Who Counts as a Democratic Representative?” In Creating Political Presence: The New Politics of Democratic Representation. Eds. Johannes Pollack and Dario Castiglione. University of Chicago Press
Montanaro, Laura. 2017. “Representing Affected Interests.” In Reclaiming Representation. Ed. Mónica Brito-Vieira. Routledge Press
Montanaro, Laura. 2014. "Representation." In the Encyclopaedia of Political Thought. Ed. Michael T. Gibbons. New York: Wiley-Blackwell