This article explores elections from the perspective of ritual theory. Elections have a significant ritual dimension that is often neglected in mainstream sociological and legal accounts of voting. We analytically apply the category of ritual to understand elections as regulated repetitive collective actions that configure a social temporality and a spatiality. We explore how this perspective help us understand both the visible effects of elections (the efficacy of norms) through its invisible effects (e.g. social cohesion). By stressing the communal dimension of elections we finally discuss three popular debates in election studies that are crucial for liberal democracies: (a) the paradox of participation, i.e. we have little incentive to vote but low participation increases the value of our vote, (b) electronic voting, and (c) mandatory voting. A ritual understanding of voting is useful for theoretical discussions (a) as well as for empirical literature on participation (b, c).
Our 2020 Annual Conference was scheduled to be held at the University of Wrocław in Poland on July 9-11, 2020.
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the ICON·S Executive Committee has decided to postpone our 2020 Conference to 2021. Our next Annual Conference will take place from July 8-10, 2021, in Wrocław, Poland.
Procedural details regarding the organization of the 2021 Conference will follow in the months ahead.Join ICON•S