The Universities of Lausanne, Fribourg and Zurich launch in September 2019 a new ‘Sinergia’ research consortium entitled ‘Local power structures and transnational connections. New perspectives on elites in Switzerland, 1890-2020’.
Financed by the Swiss National Science Foundation (SNSF), the project will recruit 4 PhD students and 1 postdoctoral researcher.
This interdisciplinary and multi-site research project is coordinated by four OBELIS members : André Mach and Stéphanie Ginalski (Lausanne), Eric Davoine (Fribourg) and Matthieu Leimgruber (Zürich).
Recent scholarship has underscored on the one hand the increasing internationalization of elites, especially economic ones. These are considered to be increasingly disconnected from their local contexts. On the other hand, scholars have also noted the importance of elites’ local embeddedness to ensure successful economic and political outcomes. Because of its economic and political decentralization combined with the early internationalization of its core firms, Switzerland and its local elites constitute a particularly interesting case in order to analyze the tensions between local embeddedness, transnational connections as well as long term shifts such as state centralization or economic globalization.
Building on the Swiss Elites Observatory database (OBELIS), this research project will focus on the elites of the three main Swiss cities (Zürich, Basel and Geneva) and explore both a) the transformation of local power structures and b) the multi-level implications of these elites at the local, national and transnational level. These research axes will be developed in four subprojects dealing with 1) key members of local chambers of commerce; 2) leaders of core economics sectors and firms; 3) participants to local art societies and cultural institutions; 4) academic personnel and university staff.
These research themes will enhance our knowledge on Swiss elites and bring new understanding on the long-term changes between 1890 and 2020. These findings will also be of interest for scholars studying local elites in other national contexts.