Michèle Lamont

Laureate Erasmus Prize 2017

Theme: Knowledge, power and diversity

In 2017 the Foundation took it upon itself to select an active scholar who has addressed the relationship between knowledge, power and diversity. In Michèle Lamont (1957) the Foundation recognized a committed cultural sociologist.

Lamont has devoted her academic career to issues that centre on social themes such as exclusion, inequality and dignity. She shows that the presence of diversity often leads to more resilient societies. Lamont also turns her critical gaze inwards by analysing how notions of value and quality underpin processes of evaluating knowledge and taking decisions within the social sciences. In an era when the authority of academics is increasingly called into question, the Foundation considers this of great importance.

Michèle Lamont (1957) grew up in Québec, Canada, but has worked since 2003 as a professor of sociology and African and African American Studies at Harvard University in the United States. She has written dozens of books and articles on such subjects as social inequality and racism, as well as on academia and education. In her book Getting Respect (2016), she explores the huge influence of discrimination on the daily lives of stigmatized groups. In her previous book, How Professors Think (2009), she showed how the academic world determines what is and what isn’t valuable knowledge. Michèle Lamont received an honorary doctorate from the University of Amsterdam in 2016.