Conflicts surrounding pandemic measures: why protests in Switzerland were so vehement
Various measures that were introduced to contain the Covid-19 pandemic met with pockets of political resistance that sparked protests. This project is a comparative investigation of the specifics of these protests.
Since Swiss protests against coronavirus-related measures were quick to take shape, they had a long period over which to stabilise. The project will investigate why there was such pronounced politically motivated hostility to pandemic measures in German-speaking Switzerland and other German-speaking areas of Europe. To do so, the researchers are adopting a research design that compares nations and regions and combines quantitative and qualitative methods. Systematic comparisons will be used to shed light on the causes of and background to these internationally disparate protests. Thus the project will contribute to understanding how modern protest movements develop.
During the pandemic, individuals' refusal to abide by measures that were designed to control the virus sparked social conflict. This politically motivated rejection of behavioural restrictions has been dubbed "contentious non-compliance". A heterogeneous protest movement developed at an early stage in Switzerland. Politically motivated non-compliance also manifested in low Covid vaccination rates and other forms of political resistance.
The aim of the project is to obtain an in-depth understanding of the structural conditions that give rise to non-compliance movements. That means analysing the conditions under which the most serious opposition to behavioural restrictions introduced by democratic decision should be expected, from which social groups this opposition originated, and how such opposition can be brought into the process of political legitimation.
The project is significant because it sets out to generate knowledge of how novel types of protest that quickly recruit members from heterogeneous protest settings develop.
Investigating contentious non-compliance among the population will give scientists and decision makers a better understanding of compliance and non-compliance with measures (something that will become relevant in the context of climate change going forward). This will provide a basis for political decision processes and communication of those decisions.
Contentious non-compliance with pandemic response