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Regular version of the site

Ronald Inglehart and Pippa Norris - winners of the Johan Skytte Prize

Ronald Inglehart, Professor at the University of Michigan and Academic Supervisor of the HSE Laboratory for Comparative Social Research, and Pippa Norris, Professor in political science at the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University, have both won the Johan Skytte Prize in Political Science. The awards ceremony took place on September 24th at the University of Uppsala, Sweden.

In the 17 years of the prize’s history this is the first time that two scientists have become joint winners. They received the prize for ‘contributing innovative ideas about the relevance and roots of political culture in a global context, transcending previous mainstream approaches of research’.

According to the website of the Skytte Prize, ‘In three co-authored books and numerous articles they have, through sophisticated analyses and a globally-based material including a majority of the world's population, shown that a crucial key to continuity and change in political participation, interest and why issues become prioritized is the values, beliefs and attitudes of the citizens themselves. In their joint work, the importance of religion in today's contemporary world has been in focus, as well as gender equality and the role of global media and information technology in affecting values to converge or become more polarized. The process of value formation and change is intimately related to structural factors such as the shift from industrial to post-industrial production, and furthermore rests on feelings of existential security which are affected by a spread in the equality of well-being. Characteristic of Norris and Inglehart's research is that their analyses ties together their own as well as previously launced theories with a uniquely rich and subtle material, allowing for systematic empirical testing, development but also refutation. Their focus is consequently on the citizens, the people, and their indirect interplay with elites and political and societal institutions.’

Commentary from Prof. R. Inglehart:

The awards ceremony was held on Saturday. First we visited Skytte’s tomb, and then in a cathedral located next to Uppsala University we were awarded these huge silver medals. I’m not just saying this about the size: they really are huge and weigh a lot.

The ceremony itself was very impressive, in the U.S. there is nothing like this: we have no royal family or hereditary nobility: usually you are just given a diploma and a congratulatory speech. In Sweden they really have traditions, and in every province they have a different ethnic group with its own flags, national costumes, hats etc.

But the prize itself is rather new: it was first awarded only 17 years ago. The prize is sponsored by Johan Skytte Foundation, at Uppsala University which is considered as the best Swedish university, there is professorship named after Skytte. Johan Skytte was the first professor in political science at Uppsala University. He worked in various Swedish governments and also worked in other countries, including Estonia, Latvia and Russia, in Saint Petersburg.

Since the foundation has large financial assets, when one of the professors asked: ‘Why are there Nobel Prizes in chemistry, physics, literature, medicine and economics but not in political science?’, the response was the creation of the Skytte Prize, a Nobel Prize equivalent to the Nobel Prize, but in political science. To be more serious, it is accompanied by a large financial reward (which was, for example, enough for me to pay for part of my field studies in India). The prize becomes more and more recognised, and while it has not yet become as well known as the Nobel prize, it definitely already has some authority in political science.

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