BEHAVIORAL URBANITY

 

            The goal of this research was to test whether political behavior could reflect the degree of social urbanity of voters. Using a series of quantitative and qualitative methods, I show the geography of cohesion behavior in participatory votes renders the distinctive existence of an urban society that finds allies among cultural minorities, making a strong case for an ideological measure of urbanity. Moreover, my results suggest that, contrary to what classical urban theory and sub-cultural theory predict, neither social diversity in the city nor a clash between subcultures trigger plurality in political preferences of urban denizens, but to the contrary, promotes homogeneous behavior, including strong cohesion. In other words, although localized urban populations do not agree on all political matter, their degree of cohesion varies in synch across the country, and with cultural minorities.

            As an extensive historical process, urbanity can hardly be bound to strict demographic indicators and institutionalized borders and necessitate new means of investigation. To this aim, I am able to demonstrate, using concepts and methods I borrow from political science—and political psychology more specifically—that contemporary political cohesion behavior among communities in Switzerland points to the persistence of ideological, if not cultural, variations along the urban-rural continuum. If urban denizens form a distinct group across national space, it is not yet clear whether this is true across time, or in a transnational context. In this study I do not promote any further explanations on the apparent association between numerous urban denizens and linguistic minorities.

            A possible explanation could be found, however, in the construction of the Swiss national and territorial identities that have long given privilege to the Swiss-German Alpine and agrarian representations. Using cohesion as a measure of political behavior, I do not precisely address the geography of political ideologies. Nevertheless, BEHAVIORAL URBANITY provides insightful and novel knowledge on the underlying relationship that ties populations’ spatial context and their use of democratic institutions.

 
Shin Alexandre Koseki