Home » Graduate Student Announcement » Nadav Gabay’s dissertation wins prestigious Prize and Postdoctoral Fellowship

Nadav Gabay’s dissertation wins prestigious Prize and Postdoctoral Fellowship

Congratulations to recent graduate Dr. Nadav Gabay, whose dissertation has won the prestigious Samuel H. Beer Prize from the British Politics Group of the American Political Science Association for the Best Dissertation on British Politics.   Below is a glowing description of Nadav’s work from the prize committee Chair, Richard Haesly:   

“This year we had an impressive array of topics covered in the submitted dissertations.  In the end, the committee selected Nadav Gabay as this year’s winner.  His dissertation, The Political Origins of Social Science: The Cultural Transformation of the British Parliament and the Emergence of Scientific Policymaking, 1803-1857, is an ambitious and intriguing analysis of the role that the British Parliament of the 19th century influenced the contours of social scientific inquiry.  Rich in historical analysis and innovative arguments, Gabay provides evidence that important transformations in British politics and society in the early 19th century eventually led to the emergence of social science as a discipline of inquiry. The public role of Members of Parliament changed, particularly rapidly and publicly given the increased recording and reporting of parliamentary debates, from one that emphasized the Member’s demonstration of his classical education into one that required awareness of and engagement with social and political issues. Thus, many Members of Parliament would embark on detailed analysis of large-scale social problems, such as the effectiveness of Poor Laws, the status of children’s employment (particularly in the coal mines throughout Britain) and working conditions for all factory workers. The committee was particularly impressed with Gabay’s analysis of various Commissions that Parliament established starting in the mid-1800s, and how the Members of Parliament and the commissioners faced many of the thorny epistemological and methodological issues that social scientists struggle with to this day. Without formal training in these fine methodological debates, the MPs and Commissioners carved out solutions that would be very familiar to many social scientists today in terms of how to document the existence and scope of a given social problem and to advocate particular remedies to these complex social ills.  Innovative and argued with a distinctive voice, Gabay’s work not only challenges the orthodox view of when and how social science began to take the form that it did, but it clearly advances our understanding of this key stage in the development of the British Parliament.”  

Nadav was also awarded a postdoctoral fellowship in the Department of Sociology and Anthropology at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem. His dissertation committee chair was Gershon  Shafir. (June ’08)

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