SASE 2022 Alice Amsden Best Book Award


Alice Amsden Best Book Award

The Alice Amsden Best Book Award committee (Virág Molnár [chair], Sébastien Lechevalier (EHESS), and Eunmi Mun) considered submitted books with a 2020 or 2021 first edition publication date, and which are not edited volumes, with the aim of selecting an outstanding scholarly book that breaks new ground in the study of economic behavior and/or its policy implications with regard to societal, institutional, historical, philosophical, psychological, and ethical factors.

The Alice Amsden Book Award is given annually for the best book that breaks new ground in the study of economic behavior and/or its policy implications with regard to societal, institutional, historical, philosophical, psychological, and ethical factors. The prize comes with an award of $2,000.

Winner

China’s Gilded Age: The Paradox of Economic Boom and Vast Corruption by Yuen Yuen Ang

The committee is delighted to announce that the 2022 Alice Amsden Book Award of the Society for the Advancement of Socio-Economics goes to political scientist Yuen Yuen Ang for her book China’s Gilded Age: The Paradox of Economic Boom and Vast Corruption (Cambridge University Press, 2020).

Read more about China's Gilded Age: The Paradox of Economic Boom and Vast Corruption

The committee writes: The book investigates the paradox of how China has been able to grow so fast for so long despite the prevalence of widespread corruption. Yuen Yuen Ang challenges the idea of Chinese exceptionalism regarding corruption by offering an insightful historical comparison between contemporary China and the nineteenth century United States during the Gilded Age. She develops an innovative methodology to capture the multidimensional nature of corruption, which extends the contribution of her research well beyond China, helping to disentangle the relationship between corruption and development more broadly. She does not only break down different types of corruption in a conceptually nuanced manner but gathers data from an impressively broad range of sources – including opinion surveys, historical documents, interviews, macro-economic statistics – to provide robust evidence for the impact of various forms of corruption on development. The tight organization of a complex argument, the confident treatment of vast amounts of data, and the lucid writing make the book an informative and engaging read. Yuen Yuen Ang’s eclectic intellectual and methodological approach also ensures the book’s appeal to a broad interdisciplinary audience.


Honorable Mentions

 

Underwater: Loss, Flood Insurance, and the Moral Economy of Climate Change in the United States by Rebecca Elliott
Unfree: Migrant Domestic Work in Arab States by Rhacel Salazar Parreñas

The committee has also decided to award two Honorable Mentions, to sociologist Rebecca Elliott for her book Underwater: Loss, Flood Insurance, and the Moral Economy of Climate Change in the United States (Columbia University Press, 2021) and to sociologist Rhacel Salazar Parreñas for her book Unfree: Migrant Domestic Work in Arab States (Stanford University Press, 2021).

Read more about Underwater and Unfree

The Committee writes: The committee also decided to recognize two other books from the shortlist to represent the breadth and diversity of the research conducted by SASE members.

Rebecca Elliott’s Underwater. Loss, Flood Insurance, and the Moral Economy of Climate Change in the United States (Columbia University Press, 2021) is an original study of climate change through a case study of the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP). The book creatively applies theoretical insights from economic sociology and Science and Technology Studies (STS) to develop a broader view of the concept of loss that goes beyond conventional academic and policy discussions of risk and insurance. Following in the footsteps of Viviana Zelizer, Elliott shows the multiple meanings of loss that shape the social construction of risk. She deftly combines data from interviews, ethnographic fieldwork, and archival materials to craft a multi-layered story about the seemingly pedestrian subject of flood insurance.

Similarly, Rhacel Salazar Parreñas’ Unfree. Migrant Domestic Work in Arab States (Stanford University Press, 2022) offers new and thought-provoking insights about the experience of unfreedom due to the absence of labor standards under the kafala (employment sponsorship) system. She focuses on the diverse conditions of domestic workers from the Philippines in the United Arab Emirates, showing how morals shape the market of migrant domestic work. The book’s research design captures global labor processes in innovative ways by tracing migrant labor through the interactions of various stakeholders including sending and receiving states, recruitment agencies, as well as employment and non-governmental agencies. Parreñas’ analysis complicates the story of exploitation, challenging previous studies on domestic work in the region. The book successfully brings together discussions of competing political theories of freedom/unfreedom, different economic sociological perspectives on morals and markets with a robust ethnography of domestic migrant labor.


 


Award Shortlist

The committee additionally wishes to recognize the other shortlisted books:

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