Margaret Levi the recipient of 2019 Johan Skytte Prize in Political Science

Graphic sketch of Margaret Levi
Margaret Levi (Anna Ileby, ©Skytte Foundation)

MARGARET LEVI, director of the Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences (CASBS) at Stanford and professor of political science, has been named the 25th laureate of the Johan Skytte Prize in Political Science. The prize has been awarded to Levi for “having laid the foundations of our understanding of why citizens accept state coercion, by combining theoretical acumen and historical knowledge.”

The prize is considered the equivalent of the Nobel Prize for political scientists.

It is conferred by the Skytte Foundation at the recommendation of the Skytte Prize Committee and will be awarded on Sept. 28. The committee receives nominations from the wide scholarly community.

The prize has been awarded annually since 1995 to a scholar who, in the view of the committee, has made the most valuable contributions to political science. The prize is part of the legacy of Johan Skytte, a Swedish statesman who in 1622 founded what is now the oldest political science department in the world – the Department of Government at Uppsala University.

In its press release, the foundation wrote:

In her work, Levi often re-visits the sources of legitimacy behind state coercion and coercion exercised by other collectives. According to Levi, the state could not exist without what she calls a quasi-voluntary consent to being governed, paying taxes and obeying laws which we might not necessarily like or have not actively helped to create. As the experience of many dictatorial rulers shows, the price of governing is often high. In the worst scenarios, people have to be divided by walls, placed under surveillance, bribed with “bread and games” – but even these strategies do not necessarily make the rulers safe. A potential revolt is always brewing. Governing becomes much easier when consent is given, which, as Levi shows, is best achieved if national politics is perceived as fair, if decision-making procedures are perceived as inclusive and if there is a belief that everyone contributes without free-riding. 

“I am beyond thrilled by this incredible honor,” said Levi. “I am also deeply humbled, as I’m in awe of previous Skytte Prize winners. They are nothing short of foundational and transformational figures in the political science profession. The inaugural winner, Robert Dahl, was one of my heroes. Lin Ostrom was a great friend and inspiration. And, I’m additionally delighted to be immediately preceded by the wonderful Jenny Mansbridge.”

Read the full article on the Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences website. Read the full press release here.