Organization, Literacy, and the Rise of Secular Parties (with Kit Rickard)

What are the conditions under which parties with a secularizing platform achieve electoral success? We argue that secularizing parties become electorally competitive when they can rely on civic associations that allow for urban as well as rural access or if they can disseminate their message in the absence of a thick associational network. These paths become available depending on the type of urban settlement in place and on the ability to directly disseminate printed material to potential supporters. To evaluate our argument, we use an analysis of départements within France at the beginning of the Third Republic when republican parties that explicitly intended to secularize education and family law began to participate in competitive elections.

Discussant: Leonardo Carella (Oxford)

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