Article 2 of the Constitution of the Praemium Erasmianum Foundation reads as follows:
“Within the context of the cultural traditions of Europe in general, and the ideas of Erasmus in particular, the aim of the Foundation is to enhance the position of the humanities, the social sciences and the arts. The emphasis lies on tolerance, cultural diversity and non-dogmatic, critical thinking. The Foundation tries to achieve this aim by awarding prizes and by organising events that draw attention to the work and vision of the laureates. A cash prize is awarded under the name of ‘Erasmus Prize’.”
In accordance with this article, the Board of the Foundation has decided to award the Erasmus Prize 2017 to cultural sociologist Michèle Lamont.
The prize is awarded to Michèle Lamont on the following grounds:
- She receives the prize for her devoted contribution to social science research into the relationship between knowledge, power and diversity.
- An internationally influential sociologist, Lamont has played a leading role in connecting European and American areas of research within the social sciences.
- Lamont has devoted her academic career to investigating how cultural conditions shape inequality and social exclusion, and how stigmatized groups find ways to preserve their dignity and self-worth. Through ground-breaking international comparative research, she shows that disadvantaged groups can achieve new forms of self-esteem and respect.
- In searching for success formulas, she examines the cultural factors and institutional structures that can create more resilient societies. Moreover, she shows that diversity often leads to more vigorous and productive relationships in both society and the academic world. For Lamont also turns her critical gaze inwards, analysing the ideas about worth and quality that underpin the formation of judgement within the academic world. The jury finds her research into the underlying patterns within this discussion of particular importance at a time when the authority of scholars and their claim to truth is increasingly challenged.
- With her interdisciplinary approach, critical stance and international outlook, Lamont shows herself to be a champion of diversity in research and society. As such, she embodies the Erasmian values that the Foundation cherishes and upholds.