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Political Theory Prize


The ECPR Political Theory Prize was introduced in 2020 to highlight the critical role of political theory in political science by celebrating outstanding contributions in the field. The prize is awarded for the best first book in political theory, published in English and within two years preceding the award year. 

The Political Theory Prize was conceived in collaboration with the ECPR Standing Groups on Kantian Political Thought, Political Theory and International Political Theory, along with the convenors of the ECPR General Conference Section on Methodology of Political Theory. It is co-sponsored by the Contemporary Political Theory journal and carries a prize fund of €500. 

Nurturing and supporting the careers of students and early career researchers has been a key part of the mission of the ECPR since its creation, and nominations of early career scholars are therefore strongly encouraged.

Nominations for the 2024 award have now closed. Thank you to all those who have nominated.

Nominations open: 8 February 2024.
Deadline for nominations: 31 May 2024.

Nominations for the 2024 award have now closed. Thank you to all those who have nominated.

Submitting a nomination 

To nominate, please email two formal nomination letters to The letters must come from academics based in two different countries, who must be affiliated with ECPR Member institutions (Full or Associate).

Nominations must include, as two or three separate PDF files:

  • PDF 1: Book as a PDF file
  • PDF 2/3: Formal nomination letters from two academics as stated above, each of which including book title and year of publication, and the rationale for nominating the book

Nominations of early career scholars are encouraged.


  • The prize is open to scholars in political science and related fields (for example: political theory, political philosophy), regardless of institutional membership.
  • This must be the candidate's first book in English in political theory.
  • Entries must be published in the two years before the year of award (i.e. in 2022 and 2023, for the 2024 prize application).
  • Each book can only be nominated for this prize once.


  • Self-nominations are not accepted.
  • Nominations from publishers and agencies are not accepted.
  • Members of the ECPR Executive Committee, ECPR Director, or Editors of any ECPR books, journals or blog are not eligible for this prize during their terms in office.
    • Members of the Executive Committee and the Director become eligible after three buffer years, and editors after one.
    • The requirement that a work have been published in the previous two years may be waived in this case.

Prize Jury

Eligible nominations are reviewed by a jury comprised of a member of the Executive Committee acting as Chair, a member from each founding Political Theory Standing Group, a convenor of the Methodology section and a senior editor from the journal Contemporary Political Theory (CPT). 

2024 Jury 

The full jury for the 2024 jury comprises:

Questions? Email

2023 – Maxime Lepoutre

Maxime LepoutreIn its third year, the Political Theory Prize has been awarded to Maxime Lepoutre of the University of Reading for his book Democratic Speech in Divided Times (Oxford University Press, 2021).

Maxime Lepoutre's research lies at the intersection of political philosophy, social epistemology, and philosophy of language, and is devoted to exploring the norms that should govern democratic public discourse in contexts marked by deep divisions. 

In an ideal democracy, people from all walks of life would come together to talk meaningfully and respectfully about politics. But we do not live in an ideal democracy. In contemporary democracies, which are marked by deep social divisions, different groups for the most part avoid talking to each other. And when they do talk to each other, their speech often seems to be little more than a vehicle for rage, hatred, and deception.

Democratic Speech in Divided Times argues that we should nevertheless not give up on the ideal of democratic public speech. Drawing on the resources of political theory, epistemology, and philosophy of language, this book develops a sustained account of the norms that should govern public discourse in deeply divided circumstances.

From our Jury: 'This work is a fascinating book dealing with the complexity of democratic deliberative discourse in contemporary society. The jury welcomes the major contribution of the book to political theory, but also prizes the capacity of the author to work at the overlap between epistemology, philosophy of mind, philosophy of language, philosophy of science, psychology, sociology, and political science.'

Read full laudation 

We have created this short video to celebrate Maxime's achievement and to share his work with our community.

2022 – Sinja Graf

Sinja GrafIn its second year, the Political Theory Prize has been awarded to Sinja Graf of the London School of Economics and Political Science for her book The Humanity of Universal Crime: Inclusion, Inequality, and Intervention in International Political Thought (Oxford University Press, 2021). 

Sinja Graf’s research combines international political theory, international law and imperial studies to analyse mobilisations of normative universals for arguments about order, justice and the (il-)legitimacy of violence in international politics in (post-)colonial contexts.

The international crime of 'crimes against humanity' has become integral to contemporary political and legal discourse. However, the conceptual core of the term—an act against all of mankind—has a longer and deeper history in international political thought. In an original excavation of this history, The Humanity of Universal Crime examines theoretical mobilisations of the idea of universal crime in colonial and post-colonial contexts.

From our Jury: 'The main argument is particularly captivating and intriguing – the author argues that there is a 'political productivity of crime' in the sense that the humanity of some offenders is prominently (and sometimes exclusively) secured through their subjection to criminal law (and criminal trials in particular).'

 Read full laudation 

We have created this short video to celebrate Sinja’s achievement and to share her work with our community.

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.