Platform Politics in Europe | Self-Appointed Representatives on Facebook: The Case of the Belgian Citizen’s Platform for Refugee Support

Louise Knops, Eline Severs


Increasingly, representation is seen as an interplay of representative claims. In this article, we study the representative claims formulated by Belgium’s Citizen’s Platform for Refugee Support (CPRS) and examine how the CPRS justifies its right to speak on behalf of others. Our qualitative analysis centers on the content of the CPRS Facebook page and how its features and affordances shape the CPRS’s representative strategies. Our findings reveal that the CPRS’s claims produce an alternative conception of “we, the people.” To create this other generality, the CPRS taps into the registers of proximity, impartiality, and reflexivity proposed by Rosanvallon as alternative legitimation mechanisms. We find that the CPRS predominantly draws on its proximity to the people it represents to legitimize its authority and that this, in turn, lays the foundation for its claims of impartiality. Facebook here plays an ambivalent role as both facilitator and detractor.


political representation, representative claims, self-appointed representatives, legitimation, Facebook, digital democracy, refugees

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