Margaret Teresa Brower Receives the 2022 Harold D. Lasswell Award

The Harold D. Lasswell Award is presented annually by the American Political Science Association (APSA) to honor the best doctoral dissertation in the field of public policy. 

Margaret Teresa Brower is a Postdoctoral Fellow with the Inequality in America Initiative at Harvard University and an incoming assistant professor of political science at the University of Washington.  She received her MA and PhD from the University of Chicago in political science.  Additionally, she received an MA in higher education and public policy from the University of Michigan.  She studies racial, gender, and class inequality in the United States.  Her research investigates how institutions and policies reproduce inequities, particularly across intersecting identities of race, ethnicity, class, gender, and sexual orientation.  Her work also identifies activism, advocacy, and policymaking that aim to transform these institutions to be more equitable, just, and representative of a diverse polity. Her work has been published or is forthcoming in Educational Policy, Distinct Identities II, Daedalus, Education Policy & Leadership, College & Character, Change Magazine, and Diversity & Democracy.  Her work also has been discussed in various media outlets such as: NPR, MSNBC live, The Washington Post, WGN, and WBEZ Chicago.

Citation from the Award Committee: 

The selection committee is delighted to announce that the winner of the 2022 Harold D. Lasswell Award is Margaret Brower.  Dr. Brower completed her dissertation, “How She Reconfigures the State: Intersectional Advocacy & The Movement Against Violence” in 2021 at the University of Chicago.

The field for the Lasswell Award this year was incredibly deep, but Dr. Brower’s dissertation stood out for its originality and creativity, theoretical innovation, mixed methods research design, and exceptional writing and argumentation.

“How She Reconfigures the State” is a study of movements to end violence against women, and more specifically the pursuit of what Dr. Brower terms “intersectional advocacy” which is a strategic process to transcend institutional boundaries to serve groups that are positioned between multiple issues.  Dr. Brower argues that intersectional advocacy organizations operate very differently than other organizations by contesting the boundaries of existing policy institutions, thereby more effectively representing multi-marginalized groups.  Stated differently, intersectional advocacy organizations work to protect women against violence by connecting it with seemingly separate issues such as incarceration, housing and healthcare.

To examine her theoretical arguments, Dr. Brower employs a mixed methods approach, relying on dozens of interviews with organizational leaders, detailed analysis of congressional hearings around the Violence Against Women Act, and survey experiments with the members of an advocacy organization.  Collectively, “How She Reconfigures the State” provides an impressive amount of evidence demonstrating the role of intersectional advocacy in tracing the leadership and strategies of advocacy organizations, the trajectory of policy changes through legislative reauthorization, and the potential mobilization of constituents.

Dr. Brower’s dissertation makes important contributions to the field of public policy, as well as to multiple other fields within political science including social movements, political advocacy, representation, and women and politics.  “How She Reconfigures the State” is a terrific dissertation that we anticipate will make a lasting contribution to political science and the study of public policy.

APSA thanks the Policy Studies Organization for its support of the award and the committee members for their service: Dr. David Konisky (chair) of Indiana University, Bloomington, Dr. Michael K. Gusmano of Lehigh University, and Dr. Sarah E. Reckhow of Michigan State University.

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