Adam Michael Auerbach and Tariq Thachil — 2019 Heinz I. Eulau Award Recipients, American Political Science Review

The American Political Science Association will present the Heinz Eulau Award to Adam Michael Auerbach and Tariq Thachil at the 2019 APSA Annual Meeting & Exhibition, the world’s largest gathering of political scientists and source for emerging scholarship in the discipline.  The $750 prize is awarded annually for the best article published in the American Political Science Review.

Adam Michael Auerbach is an assistant professor in the School of International Service, American University.  His research focuses on local governance, urban politics, and the political economy of development, with a regional focus on South Asia and India in particular.  Auerbach’s forthcoming book, Demanding Development: The Politics of Public Goods Provision in India’s Urban Slums (Cambridge University Press), accounts for the uneven success of India’s slum residents in demanding and securing basic public services from the state.  His research has appeared or is forthcoming in the American Journal of Political Science, American Political Science Review, Journal of Politics, Studies in Comparative International Development, World Development, and World Politics.

Tariq Thachil is an Associate Professor of Political Science at Vanderbilt University. He works on political parties, political behavior, distributive politics, ethnic politics, and migration and urbanization. His book, Elite Parties, Poor Voters, was published by Cambridge in 2014 and his articles have appeared in a range of journals including American Political Science Review, American Journal of Political Science, and Journal of Politics.

Here is what the Award Committee had to say about their decision:

Auerbach and Thachil’s article, “How Clients Select Brokers: Competition and Choice in India’s Slums,” examines the role of clients in shaping local brokerage environments.  Their article is informed by an examination of client preferences for slum leaders in urban India.  In contrast to most work on clientelism where the political broker serves as the central player, Auerbach and Thachil demonstrate that competition between brokers confers clients with considerable agency to select local leaders.  They use the case of India, an iconic developing democracy, to inform their broader theoretical framework in the study of distributive, ethnic, and urban politics.

The authors drew upon years of fieldwork in India in their survey research design.  They employed a forced-choice conjoint survey experiment where respondents are presented with information on the randomized attributes of two slum leaders and then asked which they prefer.  This design enabled them to disentangle the effects of observationally correlated attributes.  It also reduces social desirability concerns by providing a form of confidentiality in response justifications.

The committee was especially impressed with the care that was exemplified in varied and numerous aspects of the project.  Deep domain knowledge informed the methods, and both were thoughtful and thorough.  The project was unique and did not seek to provide an incremental addition to existing work, but rather forged its own path in creating new theory, unique data, innovative design, and forceful analysis.

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