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The neglected roots of Switzerland’s national economy : the key role of peasantry



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The neglected roots of Switzerland’s national
economy: The key role of peasantry
Guillaume VALLET, Associate Professor in economics and sociology, Department
of Economics, University of Grenoble Alpes, Grenoble, BP 47, 38040.
The article aims to identify the role of peasantry in the Swiss national production sys-
tem and in the Swiss society in general. There is an evident paradox when consider-
ing the peasantry in Switzerland: though its economic power has been decreasing over
time, its political power remains. The author uses the archival data to resolve this para-
dox and prove the key role of the Swiss peasantry in Switzerland from the historical and
institutional perspectives in creating the “Swiss model” based on money. Therefore, the
Swiss peasantry has always been involved in the national decision-making and repre-
sents the cultural basis of the local scale (centripetal forces) in this small open econ-
omy (centrifugal forces). The article focuses on the Swiss case to reveal the relation-
ship between the peasantry as a social group with specific functions and the national
production system. The latter refers to the system of different sectors of the nation-
al economy, which requires a “glue” in the form of monetary policies that are consist-
ent with economic and social structures. According to Schumpeter, “nothing demon-
strates so clearly what a people is made of than how it conducts its monetary policy
everything that a people desires, does, suffers, is reflected in a people’s monetary sys-
tem” (Schumpeter, 2014: xiv). The article aims to explain the extent to which peasants
as a social group matter in the Swiss national production system. The author believes
that this group has also participated in developing a strong economic system in Swit-
zerland relying on the Swiss franc, therefore the term “peasantry” implies both econom-
ic and cultural features in the historical context. The first part of the article identifies
current characteristics of Swiss peasants as a social group; the second part describes
their role in the 1930s, i.e. in the development of the strong national production sys-
tem; and the third part sums up the first two by explaining the key role of peasantry in
Switzerland in a broad sense.
Key words: Switzerland; peasantry; national history; national production system;
economic and social model; social and economic institutions
DOI: 10.22394/2500-1809-2017-2-4-56-69
Although the role of agriculture in the economic growth of the devel-
oped countries is low according to the today’s standards, agriculture
still benefits from a high social status for it refers to culture in both
productive and social senses. The population of developed countries
can be considered a historical “legacy” of the people for whom the
cultivation of land was the basis of individual and collective identities.
Thus, many scholars emphasize the economic and social consequences
of the transition from peasantry to agriculture in the developed coun-
tries (Mendras, ): becoming a big farmer means primarily a mar-
ket orientation and seeking profit instead of being socially involved in
the life of a small community and informal economy.
However, agriculture is still a major concern for the developed
countries. Its survival depends on its ability to offer attractive prices
and quality products. Although the added value in agriculture is low
per se, it entails a significant growth of productivity as well as spill-
over effects for the national economy. That is why its competitive-
ness depends on the exchange rates: to support exports of food and
raw materials the central bank should manage the exchange rates ac-
cording to the country’s productive specialization, which determines
the importance of agriculture for the national economy.
Swiss peasants: an overview
As in other developed countries, the role of the peasantry in Switzer-
land has sharply declined over time, especially over the last fifty years.
Table  presents this declining trend in comparison to industry and
service sectors in Switzerland for the period of –.
Moreover, as Table  shows, in agriculture there are fewer enter-
prises than in other sectors.
According to the international data, Switzerland belongs to the
group of countries with the lowest share of farmers considering the
total number of workers (Graph ).
Several factors determine this trend, such as the increasing role of
the service sector in the national economy, the growth of productiv-
ity, and the internationalization of trade. In general, today the con-
tribution of the primary sector to GDP is extremely low (Graph ).
Moreover, some products have suffered more than others. As
Graph  shows, “pure” agricultural production declines though the
Swiss agriculture still relies on “safe-haven” production (mainly milk,
cheese, and beef products). The national economy compensates for
this decline by services related to agriculture (Graph ).
Though the agricultural sector does not seem important for Swit-
zerland due to the apparently low impact on GDP and employment, it
has some economic “spillover effects” for the country. It should be men-
tioned that agriculture has many relationships with other sectors, es-
pecially with the service sector as the previous graph indicates; there
are also many ties between agriculture and industry considering ma-
chinery, chemistry, and so on (see Ponsot & Vallet, ). Switzerland
differs from other countries by the high subsidies it allocates to peas-
antry despite its lower productivity than in other countries, certain-
ly, because the Swiss peasantry benefits from protectionism. Moreover,
the Swiss Federal Council has always supported the peasantry either
by subsidies or by incentives to export. Thus, the annual subsidies allo-
The neglected roots
of Switzerland’s
national econo-
my: The key role of
cated to peasantry by the Swiss government is . billion Swiss francs,
which is a specific measure for the relatively non-interventionist country
(Schoenenberger & Zarin-Nejadan, ). Among other reasons, this
explains why Switzerland was so reluctant to join the World Trade Or-
ganization or the European Union despite being an open economy de-
pending on external markets, especially European markets (Vallet, ).
However, this public support for agriculture has been an integral
geographical feature of the country: only % of the land in Switzer-
land is suitable for production. Nevertheless, in the nineteenth centu-
ry Swiss farmers succeeded in turning these constraints into advan-
tages with the cooperatives model. The latter allowed them to become
stronger in the internal market, and then to increase exports. In oth-
er words, the Swiss economic model relies on cooperation (Church &
Head, ), such as strong alimentary cooperatives (Migros, for in-
stance). That is why the Swiss peasants became an important social
group capable of influencing national policies in their favor despite
their economic weakness. To understand such a paradox, we should
consider the historical roots of both the strength of the Swiss peas-
antry and the national production system.
Table 1. Employment in the economic sectors of Switzerland (%), 1960–2000
Sectors 1960 1970 1980 1990 2000
Agriculture 14.5 8.5 6.9 4.2 4.5
Industry 46.5 46.2 38.1 32.2 26.4
Services 40 45.3 55.0 63.6 69.1
Total 100 100 100 100 100
Source: Author’s calculations based on the data of Office Fédéral de la Statistique (2017).
Table 2. Distribution of enterprises and jobs in Switzerland in 2015
Enterprises Agriculture Industry Services Total
0–9 54,963 74,236 390,498 519,697
10–49 318 12,671 22,224 35,213
50–249 21 2,631 4,351 7,003
More than 249 0448 817 1,265
Total 55,302 89,986 417,890 563,178
Total number of jobs 159,923 1,098,391 3,045,006 4,303,320
Source: Author’s calculations based on the data of Office Fédéral de la Statistique (2015)
The neglected roots
of Switzerland’s
national econo-
my: The key role of
Graph 1. The share of farmers in the total number of jobs in 2014
Source: Author’s calculations based on the data of the European Commission, 2016
Graph 2. Contribution of the agricultural added value to the national added
value in 2014
Source: Author’s calculations based on the data of the European Commission, 2016
Graph 3. Value of production in agriculture
Source: Author’s calculations based on the data of the European Commission, 2016
The “peasant era” in the history of Switzerland (1920s–1930s)
Although this part of the article mentions the end of the nineteenth
century, when the key institutions of the Swiss peasantry were es-
tablished, it focuses on the s–s, i.e. the “peasant era” in the
Swiss history, when this social group was undoubtedly at the sum-
mit of its power. Such strength was to a large extent the result of the
fight of the Swiss Union of Peasants (SUP) that ensured the key role
of the Swiss peasants to be recognized in the country, for instance,
in the s the SUP determined the custom policies (Humair, ).
During this decade, the SUP was among the most important actors
of the Swiss foreign policy (Dérobert, ).
Nevertheless, it is noteworthy that there was no peasant power in
the previous decades and especially in the previous century, in which
living in Switzerland was considered a kind of a “malediction” for sev-
eral reasons. First, some significant European crises in the s neg-
atively affected the Swiss agriculture. Swiss peasants were weak and
disunited: for instance, the Peasant Union created in  broke up
quickly. Second, the Swiss external policy was guided by the interests
of industry and by the powerful “Vorort” as its representative institu-
tion. Even under the protectionism of the second half of the nineteenth
century, which ensured the development of industry, the “Vorort” sup-
ported free trade in the interests of industry. In general, there was a
“moderate and selective” protectionism in Switzerland (Humair, ).
It should be noted that at the end of the nineteenth century the Swiss
protectionism was called “protectionism of combat” (Humair, ) for
it allowed the fixed costs of exports to be minimized to secure outlets.
Graph  shows the development of the average trade tariffs.
Graph 4. Average tariffs (1886–1913), in %
Source: Statistique du Commerce de la Suisse avec l’Étranger
The neglected roots
of Switzerland’s
national econo-
my: The key role of
Such a tax policy helped the Swiss economy to take off un-
der the starting globalization, and Switzerland became the sec-
ond in the world after Argentina in terms of the economic growth
rate, which explains the emergence of the concept “Swiss mira-
cle” in the nineteenth century. However, it is important to empha
size that though the average taxes were lower in Switzerland than
in the rest of Europe, there were significant differences between
products. For instance, foreign industrial goods were taxed high-
er to protect the Swiss “infant” industry, while agricultural prod-
ucts were not
taxes were low and were declining from the late
s to the early s compared to other products (Table ).
This trend persisted in the s and s (Table ).
Tables  and  reveal that the peasantry was not a unified group
capable of defending its collective interests. Thus, the sectors of dairy
and cattle production were interested in exports, while others such
as wine production demanded protection. There was also a split be-
tween sectors connected to the agro-alimentary industry (dairy prod-
ucts) and others that were more isolated or internal-market-oriented
(fruits, vegetables, wine). The Federal Council sometimes benefited
from this split when implementing its policies for it believed that the
peasantry as a social group did not play an important role in Swit-
zerland at that time (Laur, ), which is why it focused in the de-
velopment of industry.
The creation of the Swiss Union of Peasants in  changed the
situation. The SUP was a unified and well-organized political or-
ganization. For instance, it established the journal Le Paysan Su-
isse, which helped to disseminate information about the Swiss peas-
antry throughout the whole country. The SUP was able to bargain
with the government, that is how in  it got the right to assist the
government in every commercial treaty. The SUP became powerful
in ensuring protectionism and offsetting the free-trade intentions of
industry, which was useful under the new legislative conditions for
protectionism in . The charismatic leader of the SUP from 
to , Ernst Laur, played the key role in this fight and managed to
convince the Federal Council to maintain and even raise tariffs to en-
sure permanent income for the Confederation. The SUP’s role was
reinforced under the World War I, when the SUP and the Swiss
peasantry in general benefited from the positive public opinion. Ac-
cording to the Swiss population, the peasantry succeeded in feeding
the country¹ and ensuring revenues from exports of the Swiss agricul
tural products to the belligerents. Moreover, the latter did not break
the principle of neutrality as one of the key political ideas of Swit-
zerland (Vallet, ).
. For instance, the Union Centrale des Producteurs Suisses de Laitwas to
provide the Swiss cities with milk and cheese.
The Swiss industrial bourgeois realized that it was no longer pos-
sible to ignore the peasantry, especially as a source for preventing
workers from being too revolutionary. Therefore, the industry turned
to the peasantry stressing its positive role for Switzerland from both
economic and cultural perspectives. For instance, Laur’s perception of
external tariffs was helpful for the bourgeois in defending the lower
taxation of capital: the bourgeois increasingly interested in free trade
in the first decades of the twentieth century accepted the growth of
some external tariffs provided the decrease of capital inflows. The so-
called “peasants-bourgeois bloc” was created.
However, this did not deprive the Swiss peasantry from a certain
degree of independence as being an ally of workers on some issues,
for instance, on fighting bank secrecy in the s to increase nation-
al revenues instead of decreasing trade tariffs. Furthermore, Laur
suggested import and export taxes for Swiss industry (ranging from
Table 3. Swiss external tariffs on some products (1888–1905), in %
Products 1888 1892 1905
Waste and fertilizers 0.23 0.73 0.52
Chemicals 2.39 3.38 4.45
Glass 20.57 23.74 23.08
Wood 35.12 5.77
Agricultural products 1.79 0.71 0.76
Leather 2.10 2.80 3.48
Books 0.54 1.31 1.55
Machinery 30.67 3.69 3.82
Metal 3.00 2.20 2.57
Minerals 2.02 2.47 2.19
Food products 4.37 5.80 7,67
Oil and fats 1,70 2,73 2,77
Paper 6.95 9.32 12.21
Textiles 0.93 1.55 2.60
Animals 0.93 2.42 2.29
Pottery 9.84 11.47 13.48
Other 2.26 5.53 7.93
Source: Statistique du commerce de la Suisse avec l’Étranger
The neglected roots
of Switzerland’s
national econo-
my: The key role of
 to %) to increase the prices of foreign imports. Considering the is-
sue of inflation, Swiss peasants were generally supporting workers
rather than the bourgeois for they believed that the growth of pric-
es guaranteed then regular profits. Finally, in  a tariff on trade
in peasantry’s interests was introduced, which can be considered the
backbone of peasants” power in this and the following decades. Thus,
Switzerland was one of the less protectionist European countries be-
fore the WWI, but it became the most protectionist European coun-
try a decade later.
The Swiss peasantry devised a strategy that played a significant
role in developing the national economy. In the s, characterized
by international turmoils, especially in the monetary and financial do-
mains, Switzerland succeeded in winning a sustainable specialization
in banking and financial sectors (Laurent & Vallet, ). The sectors
previously associated with industry have been increasingly determin-
ing the Swiss production system since that time. The Swiss indus-
try could no longer rely on weak wages and low costs of production
to become competitive: on the one hand, it required a high amount of
Table 4. Swiss external tariffs on some products (1906–1913), in %
Products 1906 1910 1913
Food products 6.41 7.46 6.86
Animals 4.13 3.47 2.70
Leather 3.55 3.61 3.58
Seeds, plants 0.41 0.30 0.28
Wood 5.92 6.11 6.15
Paper 5.95 7.15 7.11
Textiles 2.31 1.89 2.67
Minerals 0.83 0.55 0.49
Clay, sandstone, pottery 13.86 13.40 12.72
Glass 19.23 19.09 17.05
Ores and metals 2.07 2.66 2.57
Machinery and vehicles 5.84 5.79 5.43
Clocks, watches 3.49 3.47 3.20
Chemicals 4.13 4.33 3.89
Other 6.33 6.35 6.54
Source: Statistique du commerce de la Suisse avec l’Étranger
capital, in particular inflows from abroad; on the other hand, it sought
social peace to avoid costly strikes. Therefore, the Swiss banking and
financial sector supported this new system to attract international
capital for its own sake and for the industry.
However, the inconvenient truth is that the government developed
economic policies that were not always in the interests of peasant-
ry. In the s, when it became clear that the government aimed to
ensure efficient productive specialization by supporting the industry,
finance and banking sectors, the monetary orthodoxy became inevi-
table as a necessary condition to attract foreign capital (Laurent &
Vallet, ; Vallet, ). Although the orthodox monetary policies
under the Great Depression was a too high price in the short run
(Bordo & James, ), it was decisive in developing a stable nation-
al production system in the long run. Thus, in  the Swiss Na-
tional Bank introduced the Gold Standard in the law as a strict rule
for monetary policy (SNB). Similarly, the bank secrecy was official-
ly introduced in  to reinforce Switzerland’s attractiveness for
foreign capital (Laurent & Vallet, ). However, the Gold Stand-
ard as a necessary condition for deflation was not in the interests of
the Swiss peasantry that needed higher prices. Once again Laur op-
posed the policy that he called “the island of safe money” and took
the side of “the island of prices” (Humair, ). He claimed that the
negative impact of deflation on the agricultural production would not
be alleviated by the decrease of labor costs: “Abroad, the capitalists
lost their fortune and the peasants were able to repay their debts by
means of depreciated money. Today, farmers pay back interest and
debt service using paper, while in Switzerland their colleagues do
so in gold-value. We cannot conclude that Switzerland should sac-
rifice its currency, but rather that Swiss debtors must obtain pric-
es that are in harmony with the nature and level of their burdens”
(Laur, ).
However, the position of Laur and of the peasantry in general
was not clear. Laur, who in the s worked in the Committee of
the Bank of the SNB, supported the Gold Standard, as the economic
and political leader of that time Schulthess confirms: “For agriculture
also no gain would result from devaluation. Indeed, the optimist Laur
in particular acknowledged that it would be difficult to maintain sup-
port to the peasantry after the devaluation” (Schulthess, ). This
quote reveals that the Swiss peasantry succeeded in the s. Thus,
this social group agreed to support the choices of the economic, mon-
etary and political authorities that served the creation of the nation-
al productiion system. However, this support was determined by the
belief that the resulting revenues would help peasants to gain their
own economic and political advantages. In other words, the long-term
global economic advantages of the greater attractiveness of the coun-
try were to be shared with the peasantry through subsidies and leg-
islative protection. Moreover, the Swiss peasantry had its first polit-
The neglected roots
of Switzerland’s
national econo-
my: The key role of
ical representative in the Federal Council in 
Rudolf Minger,
which helped to bargain for advantages.
The above mentioned explanations show the extent to which the
economic and political authorities had to take into account the de
mands of peasantry in the s and s because this social group
possessed a significant political power. It should also be remembered
that the Swiss peasantry was an important labor force because the
number of workers in agriculture increased between the two world
wars: in , there were , local associations of the SUP with
, peasants. According to Laur, “a Swiss economy as more agri-
cultural and poor” is better than “a Swiss economy as more industrial
and rich” (Landmann, : ), which was accepted by the political
and economic authorities of the country. Edmund Schulthess official-
ly confirmed this position at the International Conference of Agricul-
tural Associations in September  (Landmann, ).
Thus, the Swiss peasantry played the key role in developing a
strong and diversified economy, and more widely a sustainable de-
mocracy, especially with respect to the ability to become smallholders
(Landmann, ). The economic period of the s and s, the
“Peasant Era” in Switzerland, created conditions for the strength of
this social group that is still evident today albeit in a different form.
Why the peasantry still matters in Switzerland
The focus on the peasantry, particularly in historical perspective, is
relevant for understanding the development of Swiss capitalism and
democracy. Although the Confederation was officially established in
, it became a real nation state only when the Swiss National Bank
was created () (Vallet, ). From the economic perspective, the
Swiss franc enabled the Swiss economy to become a unified internal
market, and money was a significant factor in building a strong pro-
ductive economy. However, these conditions were determined by the
Swiss authorities and people success in establishing relationships be-
tween all actors of production: banks and financial institutions, indus-
try, workers, and peasants. Even though the peasants were becom-
ing less and less important from the economic perspective (in terms
of contributing to GDP), they remained an important social group for
the country in which money “matters’. On the one hand, the Swiss
peasantry has increasingly participated in industry, particularly in the
agro-alimentary industry (Quartier, ). On the other hand, peas-
ants constituted the Swiss national basis, especially through their
role in the monetary system: money have positive effects provided
their connection with productive economic structures forming a sys-
tem consistent with the nature of monetary policies.
Money played the key role in the Swiss economic and political
project that relied on the conflicts between social actors and thus ob-
tained the status of a “social anchor’. The political leader Musy in the
s summed this up well: “One said with a reason that our Swiss
franc is the main column on which our national political building is
based. We have to preserve it... With such an economic structure as
ours one can consider money as the one big financial enterprise in
which all Swiss people, whatever economic groups they belong to, are
interested” (Musy, : ). Therefore, money possess the status
of an institution due to the framework that “coerces” (Vallet, );
however, it is an organic institution, because it evolves through the
actions of its users (Dodd, ).
In Switzerland, money became the core of both economy and soci-
ety to enhance prosperity, and peasants played their role by benefiting
from it for two reasons. First, by playing the key role in developing
the national production system the peasants increased acceptability
and legitimacy of money: the users of money accept it because they
believe in it and in the monetary institutions (Vallet, ). The peas-
ants confidence in the SNB and the Federal Council was decisive for
the Swiss franc: for instance, peasants were strong opponents of the
policy of the Gold Standard in the s, which allowed the Swiss
franc not to be perceived as a weak institution for the country. Sec-
ond, by defending their needs and political will by both consent and
conflict, peasants played the crucial role in improving the Swiss de-
mocracy for they participated in national compromises. One should
remember the regulative nature of conflicts within democracy (Tou-
raine, ).
The mentioned developments emphasize the paramount point of
the Swiss economic system: although it relies on liberal economy re-
garding the weak state interventionism, it supports the idea of reg-
ulation in which every economic group including peasantry plays a
significant role. Federal or national institutions such as the Federal
Council or the SNB (in charge of implementing the Swiss policies)
consult with representatives of economic sectors before making deci-
sions. For instance, Laur was a member of the SNB committee, which
is still typical for representatives of the Swiss industry.
Thus, Switzerland succeeded in transforming its economic struc-
tures through different industrial revolutions moving from a “Man-
chester capitalism” to the “regulated capitalism” (Humair et al., ).
However, the regulated capitalism in Switzerland does not mean state
interventionism; rather, it refers to the system in which the state
protects the economic trade only by law, and different organizations
have the right to advise and influence the government in their own
interests. From this perspective, the structure of the Swiss economy
proves the diversity of types of capitalism despite its main features:
pursuit for profit, rationalization (Boyer, ), and money to finance
entrepreneurial projects. These features can take several forms ac-
cording to cultural, sociological and historical conditions. The Swiss
case indicates the extent to which economic issues must be embed-
The neglected roots
of Switzerland’s
national econo-
my: The key role of
ded in social concerns to understand “the tricks of the trade” and so-
cial life in general.
Therefore, more broadly, the Swiss peasants have improved
are still improving
the democratic functioning of the economy and
society by maintaining local culture. The Swiss social and political
basis consists of direct democracy, neutrality, and federalism that
allows the Swiss peasantry to play a decisive role with its cultur-
al patterns. The peasant culture supports local economic and social
networks that reinforce federalism and democracy. It should be not-
ed that local associations of the SUP are established within the can-
tons (there are still around sixty local associations in the country).
Although the SUP is a federation, it supports independent peasant-
ry and, contrary to some countries such as France, primarily small
peasants: the average size of an agricultural enterprise is about 
hectares, less than in the European Union ( ha). This creates an
equilibrated agricultural structure within the country, in which cul-
ture, norms and values prevent conflicts due to centrifugal forces.
In other words, even though the country relies on hyper-globaliza-
tion regarding its productive structures, it also benefits from centrip-
etal forces such as local cultures maintaining the internal specificities
of the country, and the peasants play here a significant role. The po-
litical system enables Swiss peasants to have power through its leg-
islation which resembles the American system. In Switzerland, there
are two legislative bodies: the so-called “Conseil national” that repre-
sents Swiss citizens ( deputy per , people), and the “Conseil des
Etats” (deputies per canton and  per demi-canton) (Bouquet, ).
The Conseil des Etats allows cantons with small populations, main-
ly rural, to defend their interests. They can benefit from about -
% of seats, which is far more than their economic weight. This dis-
proportionate political power is an advantage for the whole country.
Switzerland is both a small, open and internally diversified country.
Its internal functioning relies on decisions made by cantons and cities,
and such a decision-making process corresponds to other two Swiss
basic principles
direct democracy and federalism (Vallet, ). By
participating in both national prosperity and national identity, the
Swiss peasantry helps to prevent external shocks and to reinforce so-
cial links between different parts of the country. Certainly, the main
challenge for the Swiss peasantry is to maintain its cultural and eco-
nomic significance while facing serious environmental issues such as
climate changes and organic production. The Swiss law (Article 
of the Constitution) mentions three main objectives of the peasantry:
providing food for the Swiss population, conservation of natural re-
sources and landscapes, and the decentralized settlement.
In Switzerland, peasantry has often been neglected as a social
group. Although there are some works on historiography or sociology
of peasantry, none have highlighted their role and status in the Swiss
economy and society. Based on the historical data, I have proved that
the Swiss peasantry form the core of the “Swiss model” relying on
the Swiss franc as the backbone of the national economy. This group
has always been politically involved
directly or indirectly
in deci-
sion-making, though its economic impact decreased over time. From
the cultural perspective, the Swiss peasantry reinforced local com-
munities (centripetal forces) in a small open national economy (cen-
trifugal forces). Thus, the Swiss case is insightful for the econom-
ic analysis within sociological and historical perspectives. The latter
help to understand what being a Swiss peasant means from both in-
dividual and national points of view. Such an approach is useful for
the study of the Swiss society development under the hyper-globali-
zation process through the lens of the “Swiss peasant”.
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que Nationale Suisse 1907–2007. Zürich.
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Church C., Head R.C. (2013) A Concise History of Switzerland. Cambridge.
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Humair C., Guex S., Mach A., Eichenberger P. (2012) Les organisations patronales suisses en-
tre coordination économique et influence politique. Bilan historiographique et pistes
de recherche. Vingtième Siècle. Revue d’Histoire, no 115, pp. 115-127.
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Laur E. (1919) Politique Agraire. Lausanne.
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isse (1914-1936). Revue d’Économie Financière, no 113, pp. 259-273.
Mendras H. (1967) La Fin des Paysans. Paris.
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Touraine A. (1994) Qu’est-ce Que la Démocratie? Paris.
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The neglected roots
of Switzerland’s
national econo-
my: The key role of
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etary integration process. Journal of Economic Integration, vol. 27, no 3, pp.366-385.
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Забытые истоки швейцарской экономической системы:
ключевая роль крестьянства вее историческом развитии
Гильом Валле, доцент, преподаватель экономики исоциологии Департамента
социологии, Университет Гренобль Альпы, Гренобль, ВР 47, Франция, 38040.
Встатье показана роль крестьянства встановлении швейцарской производ-
ственной системы иобщества вцелом. Помнению автора, как только речь захо-
дит окрестьянстве вШвейцарии, очевидным становится следующий парадокс:
хотя современем экономическое значение крестьянства снижалось, оно сохраня-
ло свое политическое влияние. Наоснове архивных данных этот парадокс встатье
разрешается, поскольку они подтверждают ключевую историческую иинституцио-
нальную роль крестьянства всоздании так называемой «швейцарской модели», ос-
нованной нафинансах. Швейцарское крестьянство всегда участвовало впринятии
важных политических решений ивыполняло значимую культурную функцию поддер-
жания локальных сообществ (центростремительные силы) врамках небольшой от-
крытой экономики (центробежные силы). Швейцарский кейс призван продемон-
стрировать взаимосвязь крестьянства как особой посвоим функциям социальной
группы инациональной производственной системы. Под последней поднимается
совокупность секторов национальной экономики, которая требует особого «клея»
ввиде денежной политики, соответствующей экономическим исоциальным струк-
турам. Согласно Й. Шумпетеру, «ничто непоказывает столь же ясно, что представ-
ляет изсебя народ, как его денежная политика… все, чего люди хотят, что они де-
лают иотчего страдают, отражено внациональной денежной системе» (Schumpeter,
2014: xiv). Автор стремится показать значение крестьян как социальной группы
вшвейцарской производственной системе, утверждая, что они участвовали всо-
здании мощной экономической модели, основанной нашвейцарском франке, апо-
тому термин «крестьянство» несет всебе одновременно экономические икультур-
ные черты взаданном историческом контексте. Впервой части статьи обозначены
нынешние черты швейцарского крестьянства как социальной группы; вовторой ча-
сти описана ее роль в1930-е годы, период становления мощной национальной про-
изводственной системы; втретьей части подытожены выводы относительно ключе-
вой роли швейцарского крестьянства вшироком смысле.
Ключевые слова: Швейцария, крестьянство, национальная история, национальная
производственная система, социально-экономическая модель, социальные
иэкономические институты
ResearchGate has not been able to resolve any citations for this publication.
Full-text available
The Progressive Construction of the Swiss Financial Competitive Advantage (1914-1936) This article aims at explaining how Switzerland succeeded in building a major competitive advantage in the financial sector. From a historical perspective, we show that the period 1914-1936 was decisive in Swiss monetary history, Switzerland moving from a status of minor international financial centre to a major place, with the development of very powerful actors like banks. Hence we highlight that if the banking and financial industry played an important role in this process, such a competitive advantage solidified durably only thanks to a national coalition around the conservation of the value of the Swiss franc. In particular, the industry of goods was at the core of such a coalition. The fetishism of the Swiss franc during this period appears to have been a decisive factor for the financial specialisation of Switzerland. Classification JEL: E58, E65, G21, N14, N24.
Full-text available
Dans cet article, nous proposons une discussion de l'historiographie relative aux organisations patronales suisses. Notre objectif est de contribuer au récent renouveau des études sur les associations patronales, dont la connaissance demeure parcellaire malgré leur importance tant politique qu'économique, particulièrement en Suisse. Pour ce faire, nous débutons par une présentation de la genèse, du développement et des particularités historiques des associations patronales helvétiques. Nous procédons ensuite à une analyse quantitative et qualitative de l'historiographie relative à ces organisations. Nous montrons que les recherches menées mettent principalement en évidence le rôle politique des associations patronales, mais ne font qu'esquisser leurs activités sociales et économiques. Nous concluons en dégageant des questions d'intérêt général qui ouvrent des pistes de recherche prometteuses tant pour le cas suisse que pour d'autres pays. The aim of this article is to survey the historiography of Swiss Business Interest Associations (BIAs). Our objective is to contribute to the recent renewal in the research on BIAs, which, in spite of the considerable political as well as economic influence of the latter, has been somewhat neglected. To that end, we first discuss the main traits of Swiss BIAs' genesis, development and particularities. We then present the quantitative as well as qualitative results of our historiographical survey. We show that researchers have essentially documented the political role of BIAs, but neglected their social and economic importance. We conclude by sketching some of the issues that would be worth addressing in further studies, in Switzerland as well as in other countries.
Questions about the nature of money have gained a new urgency in the aftermath of the global financial crisis. Even as many people have less of it, there are more forms and systems of money, from local currencies and social lending to mobile money and Bitcoin. Yet our understanding of what money is-and what it might be-hasn't kept pace. In The Social Life of Money, Nigel Dodd, one of today's leading sociologists of money, reformulates the theory of the subject for a postcrisis world in which new kinds of money are proliferating. What counts as legitimate action by central banks that issue currency and set policy? What underpins the right of nongovernmental actors to create new currencies? And how might new forms of money surpass or subvert government-sanctioned currencies? To answer such questions, The Social Life of Money takes a fresh and wide-ranging look at modern theories of money. One of the book's central concerns is how money can be wrested from the domination and mismanagement of banks and governments and restored to its fundamental position as the "claim upon society" described by Georg Simmel. But rather than advancing yet another critique of the state-based monetary system, The Social Life of Money draws out the utopian aspects of money and the ways in which its transformation could in turn transform society, politics, and economics. The book also identifies the contributions of thinkers who have not previously been thought of as monetary theorists-including Nietzsche, Benjamin, Bataille, Deleuze and Guattari, Baudrillard, Derrida, and Hardt and Negri. The result provides new ways of thinking about money that seek not only to understand it but to change it.
Since the beginning of the current crisis which has started in 2007, the Swiss franc has strongly appreciated against the main international currencies. This is very noticeable against the euro. It is difficult to evaluate the consequences for the economy. On the one hand, some sectors do not suffer of such an appreciation. But on the other hand, others face problems, which has forced the Swiss National Bank (SNB) to set up an official unilateral peg to the euro in September 2011. Hence the aim of this paper is to question the sovereignty of a small multicultural country like Switzerland, because it faced during its history many constraints which have prevented the monetary policy from being free. Thanks to contemporary and historic data, we shall investigate the concept of monetary sovereignty as well as the theory of money’s legitimacy and confidence.
De 1907 à 1946: enfance heureuse ou adolescence dif ficile? Banque Nationale Suisse
  • M Bordo
  • H James
Bordo M., James H. (2007) De 1907 à 1946: enfance heureuse ou adolescence dif ficile? Banque Nationale Suisse 1907-2007. Zürich.
Histoire de la Suisse
  • J J Bouquet
Bouquet J.J. (1995) Histoire de la Suisse. Paris.
A Concise History of Switzerland
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  • R C Head
Church C., Head R.C. (2013) A Concise History of Switzerland. Cambridge.
La Politique Douanière de la Confédération Suisse. PhD dissertation. Geneva
  • E Dérobert
Dérobert E. (1926) La Politique Douanière de la Confédération Suisse. PhD dissertation. Geneva.