A core aspect of the research project is the substantial data collection on local elites since 1890. We have collected data on academic, cultural, economic, media, and political elites in the cities of Basel, Geneva, and Zurich for seven benchmark years (1890, 1910, 1937, 1957, 1980, 2000, and 2020). Our project closely follows previous data collection efforts on national elites by the OBELIS Swiss Elite Observatory. To define and identify local elites, we have adopted a positional approach, i.e. we focus on the men and women who hold positions of power in different societal spheres in the three cities.

More specifically, we have collected data on:

  • the boards of directors and executive committees of the most important firms in the dominant economic sector of each city (subproject S2) and their local chambers of commerce (subproject S1)
  • the managing board of the three cantonal art societies (subproject S3)
  • full and associate professors of the cities’ local universities (subproject S4)
  • the members of the local and cantonal parliaments and executives
  • the board of directors of the two major newspapers in each city-region

For the seven benchmark years, this data collection yields over 9000 individuals holding approximately 10’000 positions. The data has been integrated in the public version of the OBELIS Swiss Elites Observatory and can be accessed here . The detailed sample description (in French) can be found here .

Members of the Sinergia project team have also developed two web applications — on local elites’ family ties and on their institutional affiliations — that allows for the analysis of our data in an interactive way. More information on these applications can be found here