Monday 4 November 2019


From the Greek for the study of pebbles (used for ballots in ancient Athens—the English word itself having Italic origins, ballotta, a little ball and hence the phrase “blackballing”), psephology is a sub-branch of political science that tries to account for election outcomes in language of socio-historic studies through research and reporting on voting registries, franchisement, polling and the influence of lobbies and special interest groups in politics.
Coined for the nonce in the late 1940s, the word term was introduced by Scottish classicist WFR Hardie when fellow academic and member of JRR Tolkein’s roundtable (the Inklings) Ronald Buchanan McCallum called on him for a word to denote the study of referenda. Poltical correspondents, analysts, demographers, policy wonks and pundits could all be called psephologtist—that is, pebble-counters.