Paul M. Sniderman Receives the 2022 Ithiel de Sola Pool Award

 The Ithiel de Sola Pool Award and Lectureship is presented triennially by the American Political Science Association (APSA) to honor a scholar whose research explores a broad range of fields pursued by Ithiel de Sola Pool; including political theory, political behavior, political communication, science and technology policy, and international affairs.  Sniderman will deliver the Pool Lecture on Friday, September 16th at 4pm ET as part of the APSA Annual Meeting.

Paul Sniderman is Fairleigh S. Dickinson Jr., Professor of Public Policy, Stanford University.  He received his B.A. in philosophy from the University of Toronto and his Ph.D. in political science from the University of California, Berkeley.  He is a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, the American Association for the Advancement of Science, and the Royal Society of the Arts.

Citation from the Award Committee:

It is with great pleasure that we honor Professor Paul M. Sniderman of Stanford University with the Ithiel de Sola Pool Award.  Professor Sniderman’s more than 50-year career certainly merits this award, as he has made important methodological and substantive contributions to political science.  Throughout his career, Paul Sniderman has generated incredible public goods for all scholars, and his numerous important discoveries pushed the literature forward by tackling questions of central relevance not just to his own subfields, but also to the discipline as a whole.  In the spirit and legacy of Ithiel de Sola Pool, Professor Sniderman has taken advantage of innovations in computer technology to make progress in the social sciences and to address fundamental questions about how democracy works and should work.

First, and perhaps most influentially, Paul Sniderman laid the groundwork for population-based survey experiments.  Building on the work of others, Sniderman was among the first to realize that computer-assisted interviewing technology allowed researchers to randomize (sometimes in highly complex ways) across different experimental treatments, thereby moving experiments out of the lab and into surveys.  This opened up new frontiers in survey research not only for individual researchers, but also in the infrastructure of the discipline.  Paul Sniderman led the multi-investigator survey experiment initiative in the 1990s that set the stage for Time-Sharing Experiments in the Social Sciences (TESS), which has been in existence for more than two decades and has been the source of data for hundreds of papers not just in Political Science, but throughout the social sciences, including Sociology, Psychology, Economics, Public Health, and many others.  None of that would have happened if not for Sniderman’s vision.

This methodological contribution alone would be enough to merit the Pool Award, but Sniderman’s work makes at least three major substantive advances in debates that are central to core questions in political science.  First, Sniderman has made foundational contributions to the study of how, and how much, citizens reason about politics and what consequences that has for democracy.  The first few decades of survey research showed that voters knew little about most political topics.  This lack of knowledge threatens democratic accountability: if voters are ignorant, how can they hold politicians accountable?  Sniderman’s work in the 1980s and 1990s, exemplified by the edited volume Reasoning and Choice: Explorations in Political Psychology (Cambridge University Press, 1991), co-edited with Brody and Tetlock, explored this central question.  It is worth noting here too that Sniderman co-edited the volume on Political Persuasion (University of Michigan Press, 1996) which helped define and stimulate that subfield.  More recently, Sniderman has advanced a theory of how political institutions, not least the party system, help citizens make political judgments.  This theory continues his line of research into how citizens reason about politics, perhaps best captured by his recent book The Democratic Faith (Yale University Press, 2017).

Second, Paul has made fundamental contributions to the literature on political prejudice and intolerance in the United States.  His work on racial prejudice, and in particular the role of racial resentment, changed how the discipline thinks about this crucial topic.  When scholars such as Kinder and Sears introduced the concept of racial resentment, it was Sniderman and his co-authors who drew attention to the fact that these items conflated racial prejudice with principled conservatism.  The ensuing debate changed the way scholars use and interpret these measures in ways that carry forward to today.  Regardless of where one stands on this debate, there is no doubt that Sniderman’s work moved the discipline forward by paying careful attention to measurement issues that are fundamental to understand the behavior of ordinary citizens.

Third, Sniderman’s work on immigration and inclusion, largely in Europe, adds yet another dimension to his scholarly contributions.  Reaching across several western European nations, Sniderman’s work investigates the question of immigrant integration, and how liberal democracies have managed, and still struggles with, this transition.  While each of these studies draws our attention to important country-specific factors, perhaps the strongest of these is his work on the Netherlands, When Ways of Life Collide (Princeton University Press, 2007).  In that book with Hagendoorn, Sniderman highlights that much of the tension around efforts to bring immigrants, in particular Muslim immigrants, into Dutch society is not about economic competition, but rather about perceived cultural threat, and a sense that immigrants pose a threat to the Dutch way of life.  Such work — and the efforts to promote integration of minority Muslim populations — remains extremely relevant today, as immigration continues to be one of the flashpoints of contemporary European — and American — politics.

In the end, Professor Paul M. Sniderman merits the Ithiel de Sola Pool Award not for any one book, article, or idea, but rather because for more than half a century, Sniderman’s work continues to define excellent scholarship that pushes the boundaries of knowledge forward on questions that are central to our discipline and to understand politics and society.

APSA thanks the committee members for their service: Rune Slothuus (chair) of Aarhus University, Dr. Deserai Anderson Crow of the University of Colorado, Denver, and Justin Grimmer of Stanford University.


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