Jane Mansbridge, Charles F. Adams Professor in Political Leadership and Democratic Values at Harvard Kennedy School, has been named winner of the 2018 Johan Skytte Prize in Political Science, the Skytte Foundation announced Friday (April 6). The Skytte Foundation cited Mansbridge’s influence in enhancing “our understanding of democracy in its direct and representative forms.”
“Mansbridge’s erudite contribution to political science spans several subfields,” the Foundation wrote in announcing the award. “During a long and distinguished career, she has made field-defining contributions to our understanding of the theory and practice of democracy, political representation and deliberation as well as feminist theory. Her distinction between conflict- and consensus-driven democracy laid the foundations for her own and others’ influential research into direct democracy and the importance of deliberation for democracy.”
“Mansbridge is also widely known for her nuanced argument that, under certain circumstances, group membership can be a legitimate basis for political representation as a way to give voice to the previously politically marginalized groups. She has brought mainstream and feminist approaches into dialogue with one another to cast light on big democratic questions. She has also been a pioneering role model for women in political science,” the Foundation wrote.
Mansbridge is the author of Beyond Adversary Democracy, an empirical and normative study of face-to-face democracy, and the award-winning Why We Lost the ERA, a study of deliberative dynamics in social movements based on organizing for an Equal Rights Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. She was president of the American Political Science Association from 2012 to 2013.
Mansbridge is currently working on a research project examining political negotiation and bipartisanship in state and federal legislative bodies across the United States.
"I am deeply honored and hope the award will help direct even more attention and intelligence to questions of how to make democracies work better," Mansbridge said.
Past winners of the prize, considered by many as the equivalent of a Nobel Prize in political science, have included Francis Fukuyama and Jon Elster, Harvard University’s Amartya Sen and Theda Skocpol, as well as two Harvard Kennedy School faculty members: Robert Putnam, Peter and Isabel Malkin Professor of Public Policy; and Pippa Norris, Paul F. McGuire Lecturer in Comparative Politics.
The prize, awarded annually, is part of the legacy of Johan Skytte, a Swedish statesman who in 1622 founded what is now the oldest department of political science in the world—the Department of Government at Uppsala University. It will be awarded at a ceremony on September 29.