A ‘field-defining’ book by Ran Hirschl wins the 2021 Stein Rokkan Prize

‘City, State: Constitutionalism and the Megacity’ by Ran Hirschl, Professor of Political Science and Law at the University of Toronto

About the book

As the world is urbanizing at an extraordinary rate, City, State argues, new thinking about constitutionalism and urbanization is desperately needed.

In six chapters, the book considers the reasons for the ‘constitutional blind spot’ concerning the metropolis, probes the constitutional relationship between states and (mega)cities worldwide, examines patterns of constitutional change and stalemate in city status, and aims to carve a new place for the city in constitutional thought, constitutional law and constitutional practice.


In his own words

‘This is a great honour. Like many others, I studied Rokkan’s groundbreaking work in my comparative politics courses back in the day. Writing a book of this scope on a vitally important yet understudied topic at the intersection of public law and comparative politics requires tremendous devotion and research. It is very gratifying to receive this prestigious award, with its European and international outreach.’

Ran Hirschl

About the author

Ran Hirschl (PhD, Yale University) is Professor of Political Science and Law at the University of Toronto, holder of the Alexander von Humboldt Professorship in Comparative Constitutionalism at the University of Göttingen, and head of the Max Planck Fellow Group in Comparative Constitutionalism. As of Fall ’21 he will serve as Professor of Government and the Earl E. Sheffield Regents Professor of Law at the University of Texas at Austin.


From the Jury

‘Readers will not think about cities and constitutions the same way after reading this book. The author points out the glaring absence of a place for cities on constitutional law thinking, despite their concentration of the world’s population at this point.

The book brings together perspectives from political science, law, and sociology to show the economic and political importance of the city, but then shows equally how cities are systematically diminished when they do not have constitutional authority to protect themselves from politicians in the state and to demand things from corporations who use structural power against them….

The book is original, innovative and deeply comparative. It is an example of how a juridical perspective can grasp relevant political and policy dynamics.’


2021 Stein Rokkan Prize Jury members

  • Giliberto Capano Università di Bologna (Chair)
  • Gunnar Grendstad Universitetet i Bergen
  • Hanna Schwander Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin
  • Marina Costa Lobo Universidade de Lisboa Instituto de Ciências Sociais
  • Pepper D. Culpepper University of Oxford

Honourable mention

The Jury members were unanimous in their choice of the winner but wished also to give honourable mention to Inside the mind of a voter by Michael Bruter and Sarah Harrison, published by Princeton University Press in 2020.

The Jury appreciated not only the unique and innovative set of research approaches but also for asking the big question of what the process of voting means to citizens in times where political disputes over policy issues often grow bitter.


The Stein Rokkan Prize for Comparative Social Science Research is awarded every year to recognize a substantial and original contribution to the field, in memory of Stein Rokkan, who was a pioneer of comparative political and social science research, renowned 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 ISSC, and one of the founders of the ECPR. It is a joint prize by the International Science Council (ISC), the University of Bergen and the ECPR.

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