Professor Hirschl Wins Prestigious Social Science Award

Ran Hirschl looking at the camera with his hand in a fist under his chin
Ran Hirschl, professor of government and the Earl E. Sheffield Regents Chair in Law

A professor at The University of Texas at Austin has been awarded one of the most prestigious book awards in the social sciences. Ran Hirschl, a professor of government and the Earl E. Sheffield Regents Chair in Law, was recognized with the 2021 Stein Rokkan Prize for Comparative Social Science Research for his book, City, State: Constitutionalism and the Megacity (Oxford University Press, 2020).

“Readers will not think about cities and constitutions the same way after reading this book,” wrote the prize’s jury, who were unanimous in their decision. “The book brings together perspectives from political science, law, and sociology to show the economic and political importance of the city, but then shows equally how cities are systematically diminished when they do not have constitutional authority to protect themselves from politicians in the state and to demand things from corporations who use structural power against them.”

City, State argues that new thinking about constitutionalism and urbanization is desperately needed. The book considers the reasons for the “constitutional blind spot” concerning the metropolis, probes the constitutional relationship between states and (mega)cities worldwide, examines patterns of constitutional change and stalemate in city status, and aims to carve out a new place for the city in constitutional thought, constitutional law and constitutional practice.

“The book is original, innovative and deeply comparative” the prize’s jury wrote. “It is an example of how a juridical perspective can grasp relevant political and policy dynamics.”

“This is a great honor,” Hirschl said. “Like many others, I studied Rokkan’s groundbreaking work in my comparative politics courses back in the day. Writing a book of this scope on a vitally important yet understudied topic at the intersection of public law and comparative politics requires tremendous devotion and research. It is very gratifying to receive this prestigious award, with its European and international outreach.”

Hirschl is also the author of several other award-winning books, including Comparative Matters: The Renaissance of Comparative Constitutional Law (Oxford University Press, 2014), Constitutional Theocracy (Harvard University Press, 2010) and Towards Juristocracy: The Origins and Consequences of the New Constitutionalism (Harvard University Press, 2004).

The Stein Rokkan Prize is awarded annually by the International Science Council (ISC), the University of Bergen and the European Consortium for Political Research (ECPR) to a substantial and original contribution in comparative social science research. It is named in memory of Stein Rokkan, who was a pioneer of comparative political and social science research.