Psephology Career in India

The term ‘Psephology’ is derived from the Greek term ‘psephos’ which means pebble, which the Greeks used as ballots and ‘logy denotes a field of study or academic discipline. Hrnce the term means the scientific study of elections and voting behavior. The term was first coined in 1952 in the United Kingdom in by historian R. B. McCallum to describe the scientific analysis of past elections.

Psephologist or the professionals engaged in studying the election patterns and deviations. They make use of tools like past election’s facts and figures and public opinion polls to arrive at a conclusion.

Their scope of job mainly encompasses analysis of aspects like trends in voting, swings in votes; number of votes polled or percentage of total votes polled translating into the number of seats in the government. They also try to find out the answers of questions like how much of percent swing in the votes may lead to change in the government. Hence Psephologists play a constructive role in any democratic set up.

Psephology Eligibility Criteria

Educational Qualifications:   Generally, a post-graduate qualification is desirable in either Political Science or Sociology stream. Aspirants with a doctorate degree in one of the two subjects do have an edge for this profession as they then possess comprehensive knowledge of the subject concerned.

Apart from this, one must have a statistician’s mind, an eye for minute details, a deep understanding of the demographic patterns of the region/area, and a strong understanding of the caste dynamics and a sharp political sense are vital for becoming a successful Psephologist.

Skills and Attributes: A Psephologist must be prepared to undertake extensive tours especially during the elections (i.e. once the election campaign kick-starts) to understand the dynamics of the voting patterns. Voting is generally on primordial loyalties like kinship, cast etc.

A Psephologist must have a good understanding of that as well the breakup of the population on caste groups, working groups, important issues in the preceding elections as well as the ongoing one. The role of a Psephologist assumes importance because if his/her predictions about poll outcome go wrong, it leads to embarrassment for the Psephologist, where as accurate or near accurate results lead to kudos.

A Psephologist must take care to keep his own political allegiance at bay while indulging in professional work. He/she should take care to keep his/her own bias to minimum; otherwise, the results of his study may show variance from the actual results and this may be detrimental to the Psephologist’s reputation.

Psephology Job Prospects

With so many television news channels as well as news magazines devoting reams of paper to elections, the Psephologist suddenly is flooded with offers during and before elections. These days elections being held somewhere or the other state with alarming regularity psephologists are busy the whole year. Even otherwise, they are usually tied up with one or the other media group to write columns and articles pertaining to political science or sociology. Research agencies and institutions also employ psephologists

Psephology Remuneration

Due to ever – increasing importance of elections in any democratic set-up, sky is the limit for a skilful Psephologist.

Psephology Institutes/Universities

Aspirants can get training in any of the universities which impart education in political science, sociology or allied fields.


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