Jon Elster awarded this year’s Johan Skytte Prize in Political Science
8 April 2016
The Johan Skytte Prize annually recognizes the most valuable contribution to the field of Political Science. This year’s prize is awarded to Professor Jon Elster, Robert K. Merton Professor in Social Sciences at Columbia University and titular professor at College de France, Paris.
The Johan Skytte Prize is awarded for the 22nd year by the Johan Skytte Foundation at Uppsala University in a ceremony taking place in Uppsala on 1 October 2016. The ceremony will, as per custom, be accompanied by a prize-winners’ lecture.
The Norwegian-born Elster receives the Prize for ’penetrating, astute and unwavering drive to test and reconsider what explains human behaviour’. Ever since his dissertation on Karl Marx at Sorbonne which he defended in 1971, Elster has committed his scholarly efforts to trying to understand what it is that makes people act the way they do. ‘How can the way we think, our collective power and our emotions explain our actions?’ – this is the question that long stood at the forefront of his scholarly endeavour. Over five decades, Elster has urged political scientists to seriously consider the meanings of rationality, irrationality, social norms and the significance of feelings within their research and has thus immeasurably enriched and broadened the discipline. Elster’s independent intellectual journey, where both bold guesses and self-criticism were indivisible companions, serves as one of the most inspirational examples of boundless curiosity within Political Science.
About the Johan Skytte Prize:
In 1622, Johan Skytte, then Vice-Chancellor of the University, established the Johan Skytte chair in Eloquence and Government, which is probably the world’s oldest active professorship in political science. The lands included in the original donation continue to finance research and the Johan Skytte Prize. The prize is awarded each year by The Skytte Foundation at Uppsala University to the person who has made the “most valuable contribution to political science”.