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Valerie Schmidt

James C. Scott receives 2021 A.SK Social Science Award

The American political scientist James C. Scott received the 2021 A.SK Social Science Award on November 2. With the award, the WZB Berlin Social Science Center honors Scott’s work, which transcends disciplinary boundaries and explores the limits of government intervention and economic policy based on his field research on rural communities in Southeast Asia. Endowed with $200,000, the A.SK Social Science Award is one of the world’s largest awards in the social sciences. 

The international A.SK jury, chaired by Dorothea Kübler, a Director at WZB, calls James C. Scott "one of the most important analysts of non-governance", who emphasizes the ability of people to self-organize in their local communities. Scott has pointed out the limits of state action and planning, for instance, in relation to urban development and the economy. His book Seeing Like a State (1998), which depicts the narrowness of the planning state’s gaze through numerous case studies, is one of the most influential social science works of the past 50 years.

The A.SK Social Science Award is donated by Chinese entrepreneurs Angela and Shu Kai Chan. It has been awarded by the WZB every two years since 2007. The prize is bestowed upon researchers from the social sciences who have made an important contribution to political and economic reform.

Find impressions from the award ceremony, with guests Alex Chen, speaker of the A.SK Council, and laudator Carola Lentz, President of the Goethe-Institut, below.