Recent research on elites has highlighted on the one hand the increasing internationalization of elites, particularly economic elites, often considered increasingly disconnected from their local context and, on the other hand, the importance of their local roots for successful economic and political development. Due to its political and economic decentralization, combined with the early internationalization of its companies, Switzerland and its local elites are a particularly interesting case to study the tensions between local anchorage and transnational connections as well as the impact of long-term political and economic changes of scale, such as the centralization of the state or economic globalization.
Building on the database of the Swiss Elite Observatory OBELIS, this project focuses on the elites of the three main Swiss cities (Zurich, Geneva and Basel). It revolves around two main research axes:
a) the transformations of local power structures
b) the insertion of elites at the local, national and transnational level
These research axes will be developed in four sub-projects, focusing on different types of local elites:
S1: committee members and managers of the chambers of commerce
S2: the economic elites of the main economic sectors and companies
S3: members of art societies and other local cultural institutions
S4: universities and academic elites
This framework will contribute to a better knowledge of Swiss elites and allows to shed a light on the transformations they faced between 1890 and 2020. The results of this project will also be relevant for more general research on elites in other national contexts. The full project outline can be found here.