2019 Johan Skytte Prize in Political Science to Margaret Levi

28 mars 2019

Professor Margaret Levi at Stanford University and University of Washington has been named the 25th recipient of the Johan Skytte Prize in Political Science. She is awarded the prize for “having laid the foundations of our understanding of why citizens accept state coercion, by combining theoretical acumen and historical knowledge.”

Margaret Levi, professor of political science at
Stanford University. Image: The Skytte Foundation

Margaret Levi is Director of the Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences (CASBS) and professor of political science at Stanford University. She is also Jere L. Bacharach Professor Emerita in International Studies at University of Washington.

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 pseudo-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.

The prize ceremony will take place in Uppsala on September 28, 2019.


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 money of SEK 500,000 is awarded every year by the Skytte Foundation at Uppsala University to the person who has made the “most valuable contribution to political science”.

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The Johan Skytte Prize