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Political Theory Prize


2021 – Chiara Cordelli

Chiara CordelliOur inaugural prize for the best first English-language book of Political Theory has been awarded to Chiara Cordelli, for her book The Privatized State, published by Princeton University Press in 2020.

Chiara Cordelli is an Associate Professor in the Department of Political Science at the University of Chicago. She works in social and political philosophy, with a particular interest in theories of justice, political legitimacy, normative defences of the state, the public/private distinction in liberal theory, and the ethics of philanthropy and assistance.

The Privatized State deals with the fact that many governmental functions today—from the management of prisons and welfare offices to warfare and financial regulation—are outsourced to private entities. Education and health care are funded in part through private philanthropy rather than taxation. Can a privatized government rule legitimately? This book argues that it cannot, showing how privatization undermines the very reason political institutions exist in the first place, and advocates for a new way of administering public affairs that is more democratic and just.

From our Jury: 'Jury members were particularly impressed by the clarity and analytical subtlety by which [Cordelli] unfolds a theory of legitimacy in the privatized state. The book combines practical philosophy with elements of histography and policy analysis to produce a highly original contribution to modern political theory.' Read the full laudation.

In light of this year's award having been presented to Chiara virtually, we have created a short video to capture this special moment.