Wealthy cities and local economic elites: Basel, Geneva and Zurich, 1880-2010

In the last two decades, extensive research has been carried out on national Swiss elites in the political, economic, administrative and academic spheres (for a synthesis, see: André Mach et al., Schweizer Wirtschaftseliten 1910–2010, Baden, 2017 and https://www2.unil.ch/elitessuisses). So far, these investigations have clearly focused on the manifold ways these elites collaborate at the national level, leaving thus largely unexplored the issue of their regional embeddedness.

This panel aims to present new long-term and comparative perspectives on Swiss elites by focusing on their local organization in three major cities, namely Basel, Geneva, and Zurich. Taking into account this local perspective is especially relevant for the Swiss case, a country characterized by a weak federal state and a highly decentralized political system (notably in the domain of taxation or education). Moreover, the polycentric structure of the Swiss economy, revolving around different regionally specialized economic centres, has to be addressed.

In this panel, we aim at bringing together case studies investigating these nationally connected, but distinct, local elites and economic centres since the 1880s. Researches addressing the local power structure of these three cities, as well as their transnational connexions, are especially welcome, although the panel is not restricted to these issues.