(Re-)Mobilizing voters: electoral strategies and practices in the English-speaking world, 1867-2017/
A la (re-)conquête des électorats : stratégies et pratiques dans le monde anglophone 1867-2017
Date: 8th February 2019
Organisers: Grégory Benedetti and Véronique Molinari
This one-day conference is organized by Université Grenoble Alpes and Institut des Langues et cultures d’Europe, Amérique, Afrique, Asie et Australie (ILCEA4)
The enfranchisement process throughout the English-speaking world has all but been a simultaneous one. In addition to the repeal of religious bans in the early 19th c., no less than six electoral reforms (Representation of the People Acts) were passed by the British Parliament between the mid-19th c. and the late 1960s, first enlarging the electorate on a property basis − but still within the confines of an exclusively male electorate −, then extending the right to vote to women and finally lowering the voting age to 18 at the end of the 1960s. In the United States, the history of voting rights offers an even more fragmented picture, with − in addition to the extension of the franchise to the same categories following a similar timetable at federal level − the inclusion or exclusion of voters from the registers on the basis of ethnicity and race through the vote of a dozen Acts between 1790 and 1965. With regards to this question, one will necessarily think of African Americans who obtained the right to vote with the 15th Amendment, in the aftermath of the Civil War, but kept fighting throughout the first half of the 20th century to actually enjoy the franchise. Nowadays, the question remains a potent issue in the Southern States where some legal measures (gerrymandering, redistricting…) tend to restrict the right to vote by excluding minorities.
This step-by-step enfranchisement based on property, sex, ethnicity and age − which is also to be observed in Canada, Australia and New Zealand among others−, quite naturally engendered fears or expectations among the main political parties or factions and led in turn to forceful attempts to attract each new − and potentially still free of allegiance − electorate. Concurrently, and subsequently to some of these changes, British and American politics, together with many other Western countries, experienced in the 20th century periods of dealignment or realignment, when weakening or changing partisan ties seemed to threaten existing structures. Such contexts − the advent of new electorates and the loss of others − seem to have been particularly conducive to renewed efforts and innovations in terms of political communication. We propose to compare in a diachronic way the strategies that have been used within one same country or political party with successive categories of voters and, in a more or less synchronic way, the strategies used with one same category of voters in different English-speaking countries so as to identify common features or, conversely, differences between the various strategies and practices.
Workshops will be organised around two main themes: that of the mobilization of new voters, and that of the remobilization of voters in cases of dealignment or realignment. All papers will be in English.
Abstracts (300 words) should be sent together with a short CV by June 1st, 2018 to: