The neglected roots of Switzerland’s national economy: The key role of peasantry

Vallet G. The neglected roots of Switzerland’s national economy: The key role of peasantry // The Russian Peasant Studies. 2017. V.2. №4. P. 56-69.

DOI: 10.22394/2500-1809-2017-2-4-56-69


The article aims to identify the role of peasantry in the Swiss national production system and in the Swiss society in general. There is an evident paradox when considering the peasantry in Switzerland: though its economic power has been decreasing over time, its political power remains. The author uses the archival data to resolve this paradox and prove the key role of the Swiss peasantry in Switzerland from the historical and institutional perspectives in creating the “Swiss model” based on money. Therefore, the Swiss peasantry has always been involved in the national decision-making and represents the cultural basis of the local scale (centripetal forces) in this small open economy (centrifugal forces). The article focuses on the Swiss case to reveal the relationship between the peasantry as a social group with specific functions and the national production system. The latter refers to the system of different sectors of the national economy, which requires a “glue” in the form of monetary policies that are consistent with economic and social structures. According to Schumpeter, “nothing demonstrates so clearly what a people is made of than how it conducts its monetary policy… everything that a people desires, does, suffers, is reflected in a people’s monetary system” (Schumpeter, 2014: xiv). The article aims to explain the extent to which peasants as a social group matter in the Swiss national production system. The author believes that this group has also participated in developing a strong economic system in Switzerland relying on the Swiss franc, therefore the term “peasantry” implies both economic and cultural features in the historical context. The first part of the article identifies current characteristics of Swiss peasants as a social group; the second part describes their role in the 1930s, i.e. in the development of the strong national production system; and the third part sums up the first two by explaining the key role of peasantry in Switzerland in a broad sense.


Switzerland, peasantry, national history, national production system, economic and social model, social and economic institutions

About the author

Vallet Guillaume, Associate Professor in economics and sociology, Department of Economics, University of Grenoble Alpes, Grenoble, BP 47, 38040.
E-mail: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.    


Read 1792 times Last modified on Mar 21 2023

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