Political Science Now

Winner of the Gabriel A. Almond Award Announced

The Gabriel A. Almond prize is awarded annually for the best dissertation in the field of comparative politics. This years winner is Adam Auerbach, congratulations Adam!

The award was created in recognition of Gabriel Almond’s contributions to the discipline, profession, and Association. He was a long time faculty member at Stanford University and former APSA President (1966). Almond’s scholarly work contributed directly to the development of theory in comparative politics and brought together work on the developing areas and Western Europe that prevented splintering into an array of disparate areas studies.

This dissertation is about poverty and development in the urban slums of India and specifically about how low income Indian citizens can come together to combat poverty and gain access to basic public services such as drinking water, sanitation and waste removal, paved roads, public safety, and schools. Auerbach says that access to these basic services varies widely across India owing to greater or lesser levels of success by citizens within neighborhoods in working together to bring these services to the local area. Auerbach finds that the role of parties is essential in bringing services to communities and that dense party networks are key in bringing services. However, the density of those networks is greater where communities are more diverse so that it is the socially diverse and heterogeneous communities that are most successful in working together to bring in basic services.

We have chosen this dissertation as our winner for several reasons. First, this is a hopeful and empowering piece of work that looks closely at how disadvantaged citizens can act for themselves to improve their world. Second, the dissertation exhibits the strength of extensive fieldwork and combines qualitative and quantitative data. Auerbach spent two and one half years in the field doing his research and knows his Indian neighborhoods well. And finally the dissertation has implications for a broad range of scholarly fields. Speaking to studies of clientelism, Auerbach finds that low income citizens can and do resist clientelistic controls, accepting payments and voting their own conscience anyway. Engaging the literature on social capital, Auerbach finds that ties to parties and politicians are as important as are ties among citizens. And finally, in keeping with the diversity argument, Auerbach finds that ethnic diversity is related to greater community success in obtaining social services.

Award Committee:
Leslie Anderson, University of Florida
Nick Ziegler, University of California, Berkeley
Hans Peter Schmitz, University of San Diego

Recipient: Adam Auerbach

Dissertation: “Demanding Development: Democracy, Community Governance, and Public Goods Provision in India’s Urban Slums,” University of Wisconsin

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