Research Committees

Distinguished Contribution to Sociological Theory Award

Established in 2007. Last edition: 2023.


This award is granted to a living thinker who has made a significant contribution to sociological theory over the last two decades at least. It is intended to recognize long term achievement rather than the excellence of an individual book or single idea. The winner of the prize will be a thinker held in high standing by sociological theorists throughout the world.


The award consists of a certificate with citation, to be given to the recipient during an appropriate session of each World Congress of Sociology. The recipient will also be asked to deliver a presentation sponsored by RC16 at the World Congress.


Any living sociologist or social scientist, whether or not he or she is a member of RC16 and/or of the ISA, is eligible. Award Subcommittee members and serving RC16 board members are not eligible to receive the award. A condition of acceptance of the award is that the winner attend the World Congress of Sociology and deliver a presentation.


Nominations will be solicited from RC16 members through the RC16 Newsletter (Theory) at least eighteen months before the corresponding World Congress of Sociology, to ensure that the winner will be given sufficient notice of the award and will thus be able to make arrangements to attend the World Congress. Nominators will be expected to provide a short justification of the nomination.

Selection Process

All nominations will be reviewed by an Award Subcommittee, consisting of three RC16 Board members currently working in three different countries. The Subcommittee will be elected at the RC16 interim meeting scheduled two years before each World Congress of Sociology. Members of the Subcommittee will also solicit the opinions of their peers within the international sociological community. The Award Subcommittee will report its decision to the RC16 Chair(s), who will report it in turn to the ISA Executive Committee. The selection process will be completed in time for the winner to undertake early registration for the World Congress.


No monetary prize is linked to this award. However, award winners from ISA's B and C category countries will be eligible for RC16 financial assistance for travel to the World Congress.


The award will be granted every four years at the World Congress of Sociology, in accordance with the procedures specified above.


The recipients of the ISA RC16 Distinguished Contribution to Sociological Theory Award are:

2023 Anthony Giddens

2018 Jeffrey Alexander

2014 Alain Touraine

2010 Zygmunt Bauman