This is one method of representation. Advocate of functional representation argue that in the legislature, it is not the territorial communities that to be represented but only various interests in the society that are to be represented.
The representation should be occupational or for economic interests. Generally an urban constituency consists of various economic interests, like tradesman, employees, laborers, etc, a rural constituency consists of agriculturists, farm laborers, and small time tradesman.
If the interests of these people are to be represented in the assembly, it should be based on functional or occupational feature.
Under this system, the legislature would be composed of the representatives of organized interests and not of the people residing in a particular geographical area. Cole, an eminent political theorist, argues that, a real democracy must contain. 'as many specially elected group of representatives as there are distinct and essential groups of functions.'
The guild socialists of British had developed the principles of occupational representation in great details. Interestingly, dictators like Mussolini and non-democrats had experimented with his type. Mussolini developed a corporative chamber, with representatives of various economic groups.
This system of representation is also criticize for the following reasons. Firstly, occupational or functional representatives, will be interested only in protecting functional interest and will be more familiar with professional problems. But they are not trained in dealing with problems of general nature.
The interest are divided and there is no unified national interest. The representatives do not represent the nation but only the occupation.
Secondly, like proportional representative, functional representation also leads to multi parties. As the number of functions or occupation increases multiple parties will also emerge, each representing one occupation.
Thirdly, two opposing functional groups may paralyze the government. For example, agriculturists and industrialists. If any project of the government. For example, agriculturists and industrialists. If any project of the government is going to affect one occupational group, to the advantage of another occupational group, there will be a dedlock as no occupational group would be willing to sacrifice its interests. Thus conflicting interest would only end up in deadlock. Fourthly, the types of occupation in a society are too numerous that is practically impossible to find representative for each and every occupation.
By way of conclusion, it can be said that democracy lives by integration and not by disintegration. As functional representation encourages disruptive forces, it is against the spirit of democracy. At the same time we should also admit that various interests in the society need to be represented in some way.
An alternate to this creation of several advisory bodies representing several occupational or other interests and when a legislation is considered with a specific group, these advisory bodies can be consulted. For example, a board consisting of employers or employees.