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date: 18 March 2019

Abstract and Keywords

This chapter evaluates the two principal methodologies adopted in studying elections over the past 200 years. The first prominently features ‘psephological’ analyses of aggregate voting data and social cleavages; the second is the revisionist ‘linguistic’ approach, which emphasizes the careful reconstruction and exploration of electoral languages and discourses, often in a specific locality. This chapter argues that, while both approaches have undoubtedly yielded considerable benefits, what was once a large field of scholarly endeavour has been split in two, with the empirical, quantitative tradition now associated with political science on one side and the now dominant cultural and linguistic approaches on the other. The chapter ends by exploring potential new directions and argues that the advent of the ‘digital turn’ and the vast proliferation of electronic sources in its wake now make possible an approach which could see the gap between electoral historians and political scientists begin to close.

Keywords: politics, political history, Britain, elections, voting, psephology, digital humanities

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