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08 Sep 2015

Stein Rokkan Prize for Comparative Social Science Research Ceremony: Christian Welzel 2014 Prize Winner!

The 2014 Stein Rokkan Prize for Comparative Social Science Research has been awarded to Christian Welzel in recognition of his book Freedom Rising: Human Empowerment and the Quest for Emancipation (2013, Cambridge University Press). The ceremony will take place on September, 12, 2015 at 17:00, in the Hilton Room of the Garden Court Marine Parade Hotel, in Durban, South Africa.

The 2014 Stein Rokkan Prize for Comparative Social Science Research Ceremony took place on 12 September, 2015 at 17:00, in the Hilton Room of the Garden Court Marine Parade Hotel, in Durban, South Africa. This special event took place in the context of the 2015 World Social Science Forum, held from 13 to 16 September, at the Durban International Convention Center.
The 2014 Stein Rokkan Prize is awarded to Professor Christian Welzel, from Leuphana University Lueneburg (Germany), for his book “Freedom Rising: Human Empowerment and the Quest for Emancipation” (2013, Cambridge University Press). The award ceremony was followed by a talk by Professor Welzel and a discussion with the audience.

Event details

What:  2014 Stein Rokkan Prize for Comparative Social Science Research award ceremony. C. Welzel: “Freedom Rising: Human Empowerment and the Quest for Emancipation
Time:   17:00 – 18:00
Place:  Hilton room, Garden Court Marine Parade Hotel, Durban, South Africa 

The Stein Rokkan Prize for Comparative Social Science Research is presented by the International Social Science Council (ISSC), the University of Bergen and the European Consortium for Political Research (ECPR). Thanks to the generosity of the University of Bergen it now comprises an award of $5,000. Stein Rokkan was a pioneer of comparative political and social science research, renowned among other things for his ground-breaking work on the nation state and democracy. A brilliant researcher and a professor at the University of Bergen where he spent most of his career, Rokkan was also president of the International Social Science Council (ISSC), and one of the founders of the European Consortium for Political Research (ECPR). The prize is open to works in comparative studies from all social science disciplines. 

http://www.ecpr.eu/Filestore/Prizes/Images/Welzel_Pict.jpgChristian Welzel is the Political Culture Research Professor at Leuphana University, Germany. He is also Vice-President of the World Values Survey Association and Special Consultant to the Laboratory for Comparative Social Research at the Higher School of Economics, St. Petersburg/Russia. His research focuses on human empowerment, emancipative values, cultural change and democratization. A recipient of various large-scale grants, Welzel is the author of more than a hundred scholarly publications. Besides his just published Freedom Rising (also winner of the Alexander L. George Award, see www.cambridge.org/welzel), his most recent books include: The Civic Culture Transformed (with Russell J. Dalton, forthcoming from Cambridge University Press); Democratization (with Christian Haerpfer, Ronald Inglehart and Patrick Bernhagen, 2009, Oxford University Press) and Modernization, Cultural Change and Democracy (with Ronald Inglehart, 2005, Cambridge University Press).

Freedom Rising starts from the premise that the quest for emancipation, defined as the desire for a life free from external domination, is the major source of human empowerment trends. The book provides an intriguing narrative of the circumstances under which the pursuit of emancipation becomes a powerful social and political force. The adaptive quest for freedom, the author argues, may be suppressed by existential pressures, as in pre-modern times or in the context of modern autocracies; but it awakens with widening existential opportunities created mainly by technological advancement, economic and social development, the increasing importance of secular values, and the growing availability of people’s action resources. Welzel highlights the emergence, reproduction and spread of emancipative values, i.e. values which emphasize, above all, free choice, equality, voice, and autonomy, as the decisive driver behind the trend towards human empowerment. According to his analysis of cross-national and time series data on value change in a large sample of countries, emancipative values are to be counted among the major social antecedents – if not the major antecedent – of pro-social behavior as well as of transitions to democracy and the institutionalization of democratic rights.

The empirical scope of Freedom Rising is impressive as is its methodological and statistical sophistication in analyzing a wide range of micro- and macro-level data. Welzel integrates the findings of his study in the framework of an “evolutionary theory of emancipation”. This theory rests on three major pillars. The first is the “source thesis”, which accounts mainly for the technological and socio-economic determinants and other exogenous conditions of human empowerment processes, with the rise of emancipative values at their core. The second pillar consists of the “sequence thesis”. This thesis focusses on endogenous determinants of emancipative values, on the one hand, and on their pro-social and pro-democratic implications, on the other. The third pillar consists of the “contagion thesis”. This part of the analysis suggests that the human empowerment process in a period of globalization and, hence, an environment of accelerated diffusion processes, is about to break free from its initial exogenous conditions.

Freedom Rising is a book with an extraordinarily broad data base and a complex theoretical foundation. It combines approaches from political culture studies and political psychology with concepts and hypotheses from research on democratization and economic and social development. The book is a major achievement in comparative scholarship. It asks ambitious questions; it is conceptually innovative and theoretically sophisticated; it displays a deep knowledge of the origins, sequences and consequences of emancipative values; it succeeds in tracing developments both over time and across diverse cultural zones; and it sets out its questions and findings with great clarity. The book’s arguments and especially its positive outlook on the progress of human empowerment will not go unchallenged. But no serious discussion of the prospects of human empowerment, freedom and democracy in a globalizing world will be able to ignore its claims.


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