Presentation / Talk

Geography of Moral Intuitions

The geography of “culture-war” is usually addressed as the expression of religious, socio-economical, ethnically and historical divides that characterise territorial constructs. In recent research trends, psychologists suggest this culture-war divisions result from gut-feeling-driven moral intuitions that underlie political preferences. Their model, Moral Foundation Theory, is empirically challenging. Because of the complexity of political practices and discourses, researchers have used alternative types of politico-moral productions such a religious discourses to validate MFT. This limits the possibility to understand the geography of culture-war. In this paper, I show how both these failures can be overcome with a longitudinal study on the Swiss direct democratic system. Switzerland has a unique democracy in which all adult citizens vote by referenda up to four times every year on various "objects" such as laws and amendments to the constitution. To vote, Swiss receive from the Federal Chancellery Voting Papers (VP) in which referendum parties present their arguments. I use every VP distributed between 1981 and 2014 (n=278) to analyse the moral foundations of both sides of each referenda. To do so, I run a content analysis on the political arguments presented using the Moral Foundation Dictionary. I then verify Haidt's model by associating the moral print of each referendum with the political orientation of federal political parties. In a second time, I associate these “prints” to the results of each referendum clustered at the municipality level (n=2485). I then run a series of linear regressions to isolate and identify socio-geographical characteristics that correlate with each foundation.


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