The representative bureaucracy theoretical framework explores the link between bureaucrats’ social and demographic characteristics and their likelihood to take actions that benefit citizens with whom they share identities. This meta-review analyzes 96 peer-reviewed representative bureaucracy journal articles to explore how the theoretical framework is described and applied and to track the contextual development of representative bureaucracy over time. Despite how far the field has come in connecting bureaucratic identity to normative policy outcomes, we find that the application of the theoretical framework is operationalized using a narrow set of shared identities (race and gender). In addition, we conclude that representative bureaucracy has been applied in limited geographic, methodological, and policy areas. Our article argues that the absence of studies that focus on intersectional identities, different geographic and policy contexts, and more qualitative and mixed methods impedes our understanding of the link between passive and active representation.
Categories: Representative Bureaucracy