Awarded every two years, the Hirschman Prize is the highest honor of the Social Science Research Council. It recognizes excellence in research, theory, and public communication, in the tradition of German-born American economist Albert Hirschman’s pioneering role in social science and public policy. Exploring theory and practice, the history of ideas—economic, social, or political—and innovative approaches to fostering growth, Hirschman saw scholarship both as a tool for social change and as an inherent value in a world in need of better understanding. He wrote in ways that help social science effectively inform public affairs. His work stands as an exemplar of the necessary knowledge that the SSRC seeks to develop and the interdisciplinary and international approach that it champions.

The recipient of the 2020 Hirschman Prize is James Scott, Sterling Professor of Political Science, professor of anthropology, and codirector of the Agrarian Studies Program at Yale University. Professor Scott presented the Albert O. Hirschman Lecture, entitled “In Praise of Floods,” at a virtual award ceremony on December 4, 2020.

Past recipients include Dani RodrikCharles TillyBenedict AndersonAbhijit Banerjee and Esther Duflo of the Abdul Latif Jameel Poverty Action Lab at MIT, Amartya Sen, and Sheila Jasanoff