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After the French Revolution, Switzerland developed from a country in which German dominated linguistically into a confederation of four officially recognized language groups ― German, French, Italian, Romansh ― concentrated in different geographical areas and marked by distinctive cultures and lifestyles. Following a historical overview of this development and the social and political institutionalization of the linguistic cleavages, McRae’s study examines key elements in the functioning of modern Swiss society: political parties, federal and cantonal institutions, the media, educational and cultural policies, the relation between the linguistic cleavages and class and religion, the attitudes and behaviour of the four language groups to one another. It concludes by reviewing the various explanations advanced to explain the relative social and political stability of Switzerland.
This book is the first volume in a projected multi–volume work examining four multilingual Western democracies. The volumes to come will focus on Belgium (scheduled for publication in 1985), Finland, and Canada.
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Kenneth D. McRae, Carleton University, Ottawa, is a Past President of the Canadian Political Science Association and a Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada; he served as a research supervisor for the Canadian Royal Commission on Bilingualism and Biculturalism. His publications include Switzerland: Example of Cultural Coexistence; The Federal Capital: Governmental Institutions; Consociational Democracy; and an edition of Jean Bodin’s The Six Bookes of a Commonweale.
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