Schwarz Natalie

Schwarz Natalie

  • University of Lausanne
  • Institut of Social Sciences/Laboratory of Sociology
Participant in 2013

Phd Projects


The Visual Communication of Swiss People’s Party. Its mobilization of visual legacies and mastering of provocation in Swiss politics

In the 1990s, the Swiss People's Party (SVP) underwent deep structural and ideological changes under the influence of Christoph Blocher and the Zurich branch, turning it into the largest party in Switzerland's federal parliament at present. Through this process, the SVP was rejuvenated and transformed from a traditional bourgeois and peasant party with strong local roots to a modern, more centralist organised catch-all-party. Consequently, its electorate is currently characterised by diversity resulting from a political agenda, which is based on a “winning formula” (defence of national identity and community, exclusion of the “other”, promotion of neoliberal globalized economy). In line with these changes, the “New” SVP also shifted towards a more professional approach to political marketing. At present, the party attracts attention with the help of political campaigns, provoking slogans and visuals as well as regular statements on recent events in the media. Thus far, a lot of research has been done on the posters of this party. However, no research has considered yet the full scope of the official communication of the SVP since the 1990s. This PhD project seeks to fill this gap. Furthermore, the analysis of the party's visual communication will provide information on how the SVP visually/symbolically constructs reality and how it convinces voters with the help of images. Assuming that images constitute discourses, the visual communication of this party will also tell us about current challenges or imaginations within Swiss society (current conceptions of reality, value judgements, and anxieties, among others). The starting corpus of data will be composed of (iconographic) material resulting from the official party communication between 1992 and the present. This PhD project will first aim at identifying all the communication channels and tools this party has mobilized during this period. Second, it will explore the strategies of persuasion used in each medium. Third, this thesis aims to locate the visual communication of the SVP within visual legacies as well as social and political interactions in Swiss society. In order to examine the mobilization of visual legacies, additional source material will be interpreted in a diachronic, synchronic and intertextual perspective. This thesis will start with a quantitative content analysis and combine later a qualitative sociological discourse analysis, based on Foucault's theory of discourse, with analytical perspectives stemming from the field of Visual Culture and Iconology. Key words: Visual Culture Studies, populism, Swiss politics, Sociology of the Image, Visual Methodologies, discourse analysis, Swiss People’s Party, party communication, political marketing, political communication

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