The Johan Skytte Prize in political science to professor Sidney Verba

April 09, 2002

Sidney Verba, Professor of Government at Harvard University and today the world's leading electoral researcher, has been awarded the Johan Skytte Prize in Political Science of 2002 by The Skytte Foundation at Uppsala University, Sweden, "for his penetrating empirical analysis of political participation and its significance for the functioning of democracy".

Electoral research is one of the areas of political science that have contributed the most to the development of new methods for studying the political reality. As far as continuous time-series records of political elections are concerned, the United States is the world leading country, followed by Sweden.

The introduction of democracy also caused a change in the methods applied by researchers within the field of political science. The citizens replaced kings and statesmen as the key actors of political life. Nowadays, political opinion polls are undertaken throughout the world whenever a political election is to be held.

Sidney Verba is the world's leading electoral researcher today. In his work, he has focused on the political participation and, above all, on its uneven distribution between people belonging to different social classes. Citizens with higher education and larger incomes participate to a greater extent in the political life, and through this mechanism the inequalities in society are reinforced. In his fundamental work dealing with citizens' political participation in the United States, Verba has developed a standard for how electoral research is to be conducted.

In Europe and Sweden the political participation is less unevenly distributed, but here too people belonging to the higher social classes are more active in the political life. Verba has also been a pioneer of the comparative research dealing with the "civic culture" of different countries. In his latest book, Verba analyses the difference in political participation that exists between men and women. According to Verba this difference prevents the obtaining of gender-equality.

The Johan Skytte Prize is with its 400 000 SEK one of the greatest prizes of the social sciences. A solemn prize ceremony will be held in Uppsala on September 28, 2002 - two weeks after the Swedish parliamentary elections. As Verba knows the Swedish political context very well, it can be expected that he will make some very interesting international comparisons in his prize-lecture.
For further information, please contact Professor Leif Lewin, chairman of the prize committee, phone +46 18 471 34 12, email

The Johan Skytte Prize home page http:/

Uppsala University

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