Awarded on April 19, 2002, to Norman J. Schofield

The Award to Norman J. Schofield

The 2002 Riker Prize Committee consisted of James Johnson (University of Rochester), chair; David Rohde (Michigan State University); and Kenneth Shepsle (Harvard University). They have awarded the second Riker Prize to Norman J. Schofield, the William Taussig Professor of Political Economy at Washington University, St. Louis for his path-breaking contributions to the theory of collective choice in multidimensional settings, the extension of those results to the analysis of coalition politics in parliamentary systems, and, subsequently, to the analysis of American constitutional politics.

We think it especially appropriate that Norman Schofield be awarded the William H. Riker Prize in Political Science. Schofield regularly and publicly acknowledges his debt, both intellectual and personal, to Bill Riker. In a recent review essay, Schofield rightly characterizes Riker as having "pursued the rational choice model in order to answer substantive and profound questions of democratic theory." The same, indeed, can be said of Schofield himself. And it is clear that his research on political indeterminacy and instability exerted considerable influence not only on the emergent field of positive political theory but on Bill Riker in particular.

Norman Schofield attended Liverpool University, graduating first with a Bachelor of Science (with distinction) in physics in 1965 and then with an honors Bachelor of Science in Mathematics in 1966. He attended graduate school at Essex University earning two doctorates - the first in Government (1976), the second in Economics (1985). He has received honorary doctoral degrees from Liverpool (1986) and the Universite de Caen (1991). Prior to his current position at Washington University, Schofield held teaching posts and fellowships at Essex, Yale, Texas, Manchester, California Institute of Technology, and the Center for Advanced Study at Stanford. He has been prolific, having written five books, edited another five, and published roughly ninety papers in books and professional journals. And that does not count work in progress!

We do not, of course, assess intellectual contributions in terms of sheer volume. In addition to his enviable productivity Norman Schofield has had a singular impact on the discipline of political science. He exemplifies the sort of political scientist Bill Riker envisioned. Schofield is perhaps best known for his fundamental work in "pure" theory where he demonstrated the generic instability of political processes. He has developed that early work not just theoretically but also through extremely imaginative use of his theoretical insights in sustained empirical analyses of political coalitions and constitutional politics. So not only is Norman Schofield preoccupied with substantive topics that were of abiding interest to Bill Riker, he approaches those topics with just the combination of theoretical insight and empirical discernment that Bill himself deployed. And, in so doing, he displays the same disregard as did Riker for what has become the conventional division of labor in the discipline. All of that said, it will be clear to those familiar with Bill Riker's work that the intellectual influence we observe here was genuinely reciprocal. For the understanding that political decision-making is fraught with indeterminacy - an understanding that Norman Schofield's theoretical findings rendered both general and precise - provided a crucial impetus for Riker's own explorations of political institutions, of competing normative interpretations of democracy, of the art of political manipulation, and of political rhetoric.

Works Specifically Cited for This Award