Donnerstag, 31. März 2022

Cleavage Identities in Voters’ Own Words: Harnessing Open-Ended Survey Responses

Transformations of Democracy Seminar Series with Delia Zollinger (University of Zurich) - Online Event

We kindly invite you to a public session in our online Seminar Series at the Transformations of Democracy unit.  

On Thursday, 31 March at 3 pm (CET), Delia Zollinger (University of Zurich) will present "Cleavage Identities in Voters’ Own Words: Harnessing Open-Ended Survey Responses".

The event is held in English. 

Please register here.
Registration deadline is Thursday, 31 March at 9 am (CET) 


Fundamental transformations of underlying cleavage structures in advanced democracies should become evident in new collective identities. This paper uses quantitative text analysis to investigate how voters describe their in-groups and out-groups in open-ended survey responses. I look at Switzerland, a paradigmatic case of electoral realignment along a ‘second’, universalism-particularism dimension of politics opposing the far right and the new left. Keyness statistics and a semi-supervised document scaling method (latent semantic scaling) serve to identify terms associated with the poles of this divide in voters’ responses, and hence to measure universalist/particularist identities. Based on voters’ own words, the results support the idea of collective identities consolidating an emerging cleavage: voters’ identity descriptions relate to far right versus new left support, to known socio-structural and attitudinal correlates of the universalism-particularism divide, and they reveal how groups opposed on this dimension antagonistically demarcate themselves from each other.