Jamilla Michener, Mallory SoRelle, and Chloe Thurston Receive the 2023 Heinz I. Eulau Award for Perspectives on Politics –


The Heinz I. Eulau Award is presented annually by the American Political Science Association (APSA) to honor the best article published in the APSA journal Perspectives on Politics.

Jamila Michener is an associate professor of Government and Public Policy at Cornell University.  She studies poverty, racism, and public policy, with a particular focus on health and housing.  She is the author of the award-winning book, Fragmented Democracy: Medicaid, Federalism, and Unequal Politics.  She is Associate Dean for Public Engagement at the Brooks School of Public Policy, co-director of the Cornell Center for Health Equity, co-director of the Politics of Race, Immigration, Class and Ethnicity (PRICE) research initiative, and board chair of the Cornell Prison Education Program.

Mallory E. SoRelle is an assistant professor of public policy at the Sanford School of Public Policy at Duke University.  Her research investigates how public policies influence socioeconomic and political inequality in the United States, with a particular focus on credit, debt, financial regulation, and access to justice. She is the author of Democracy Declined: The Failed Politics of Consumer Financial Protection, and her work has been published in leading journals like the American Political Science Review and Perspectives on Politics.  She holds a PhD in government from Cornell University, a Master of Public Policy from Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government, and a BA with honors from Smith College.  Mallory has worked in both legal advocacy and electoral politics.

Chloe Thurston is an associate professor of political science and Institute for Policy Research faculty fellow at Northwestern University.  Her research focuses on American political development, American political economy, and the politics of public policy.  She is the author of At the Boundaries of Homeownership: Credit, Discrimination, and the American State (Cambridge University Press, 2019) and co-author of The Political Development of American Debt Relief (University of Chicago, forthcoming in 2024).


Citation from the Award Committee:

“From the Margins to the Center: A Bottom-Up Approach to Welfare State Scholarship” is an important and agenda-setting article on the study of American political economy, which develops a range of theoretical tools to enable a bottom-up research approach.  Michener, Sorelle, and Thurston argue that much of the theoretical and empirical research on the welfare state focuses on questions of policy design from the perspective of policymakers and elite actors.  This work has yielded critical insights but also leaves blind spots in our understanding of how institutions operate.  Instead, they ask, what would a genuinely bottom-up approach constitute, one that centers those who are the most excluded and vulnerable, look like.

Throughout the article, they develop a range of conceptual tools to enable this type of research, demonstrating that centering those at the societal margins leads to reconceptualizing the boundaries, logic, and structure of what constitutes the welfare state.  Drawing on research on housing, civil legal assistance, and more traditional welfare programs, and their intersection with race, class, and other forms of disadvantage, they show that areas long separated from studies of welfare – systems of law, credit, and housing regulation – emerge as central when we examine social policy from a bottom-up perspective.  In so doing, this articles makes a critical normative claim, that taking the experiences, voices and perspectives of groups most often conceptualized as the objects of policy seriously, is central to studying it.  We have selected this article for the Eulau Award both because it is profoundly generative of new research questions and provides a novel and insightful set of theoretical tools to approach them.

APSA thanks the committee members for their service: Dr. Jane R. Gingrich (chair) of the University of Oxford, Dr. Kim Yi Dionne of the University of California, Riverside, and Dr. Peter Rutland of Wesleyan University. 

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