Pepper D. Culpepper wins Stein Rokkan Prize


The winner of the XVIIth Stein Rokkan Price for Comparative Social Research (2012) is Professor Pepper D Culpepper from the European University Institute’s Department of Political and Social Sciences.

In his book on Quiet Politics and Business Power” Pepper D. Culpepper takes issue with Abraham Lincoln’s view of the democratic process. He argues that open contestation, political conflict, compromise and accountability of politicians applies only to a smaller fraction of all major political decisions, above all to those issues which are marked by high political salience, a predominance of formal institutions — defined as rules established in the legislative arena by state actors — and moderate or low levels of complexity.

His book takes up a major topic of Stein Rokkan’s work. Namely, the role of economic interests in democratic politics. Culpepper’s ‘quiet politics’ is closely related to Rokkan’s insight in his analysis of political opposition in Norway, that ‘votes count, but resources decide’. ‘Quiet politics’ points to a major problem of democracies, often overlooked by the focus of politicians and political scientists on salient political conflicts, partisan coalitions and public debate. It contributes to empirical democratic theory, redirecting attention to policy-making in non-salient but tremendously important arenas.

In addition, Culpepper’s study builds empirical and theoretical bridges to the fields of business administration, to law and to comparative political economy more generally. Quiet Politics and Business Power is a major contribution to the study of political and economic institutions, processes and outcomes; and a deserving winner of the prize.