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Knowledge on a Democratic “Silence”: Conflicting Expertise on the Decline in Voter Turnout in Postwar Switzerland (1940s–1980s)


Kergomard, Zoé (2020). Knowledge on a Democratic “Silence”: Conflicting Expertise on the Decline in Voter Turnout in Postwar Switzerland (1940s–1980s). KNOW : Journal on the Formation of Knowledge, 4(2):232-261.

Abstract

Who gets to interpret why “ordinary” citizens abstain from voting? Usually perceived as a model democracy, Switzerland already experienced declining turnout rates from the 1960s onward, which worried elites and gave way to a political demand for expertise on nonvoting. Focusing on scientific studies and media pieces, this article charts the emergence of various (and possibly conflicting) forms of knowledge and interpretative frameworks on electoral turnout in postwar Switzerland, as well as their circulation in the public sphere and their potential influence on political action. Against all odds, the numerous academic and commercial studies dedicated to this topic did little to quell the relative helplessness of politicians and journalists. In fact, the decline in turnout fundamentally challenged dominant representations of civic behavior and political participation, which centered on voting and was modeled on the ideal of a (male) citizen-soldier.

Abstract

Who gets to interpret why “ordinary” citizens abstain from voting? Usually perceived as a model democracy, Switzerland already experienced declining turnout rates from the 1960s onward, which worried elites and gave way to a political demand for expertise on nonvoting. Focusing on scientific studies and media pieces, this article charts the emergence of various (and possibly conflicting) forms of knowledge and interpretative frameworks on electoral turnout in postwar Switzerland, as well as their circulation in the public sphere and their potential influence on political action. Against all odds, the numerous academic and commercial studies dedicated to this topic did little to quell the relative helplessness of politicians and journalists. In fact, the decline in turnout fundamentally challenged dominant representations of civic behavior and political participation, which centered on voting and was modeled on the ideal of a (male) citizen-soldier.

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Additional indexing

Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:06 Faculty of Arts > Institute of History
Dewey Decimal Classification:900 History
Scopus Subject Areas:Health Sciences > Multidisciplinary
Language:English
Date:July 2020
Deposited On:23 Nov 2021 06:55
Last Modified:19 Mar 2024 04:45
Publisher:University of Chicago Press
ISSN:2473-599X
OA Status:Green
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.1086/710510
Related URLs:https://hal.science/hal-03009889/document
  • Content: Accepted Version
  • Language: English