We are pleased to announce the short-listed books for our Mackenzie Book Prize 2023/24.

A huge thank you to all those who nominated a book for this esteemed prize that celebrates the distinctive contribution these works have made to advancing Political Studies.

From an impressive 16 entries, we are grateful to our brilliant judging panel to have been able to hone this down to a shortlist of five.

Our Judges:

Chair: Professor Michael Saward, The University of Warwick

 Professor Liz Richardson, University of Manchester

 Dr Catherine Eschle, University of Strathclyde

 Dr Sarah Cooper, University of Exeter

The winning entry will be announced, during the Annual Conference, at the PSA’s Annual Assembly, on Monday 25 March, alongside our other 23/24 Academic Prizes. If you are a PSA member, please do come along and cheer your colleagues on!


Magical Thinking in Public Policy: Why Naïve Ideals about Better Policymaking Persist in Cynical Times

By John Boswell

Progressive ideals for better policy-making – such as evidence-informed policy or citizen engagement – are hard to achieve, and people promoting such ‘magical thinking’ have been called naïve.  Boswell challenges this view, reasserting the value of appeals to core concepts, such as transparency, collaboration and prevention.  His work deploys a series of topical in-depth examples to demonstrate the practical value of magical thinking for dealing with radical uncertainty, working across silos, and handling unavoidable conflicts.  This highly readable book makes a convincing case for the continuing value of optimistic ideas in government.

The Struggle for Inclusion: Muslim Minorities and the Democratic Ethos

By Elisabeth Ivarsflaten and Paul Sniderman

This is an important and timely book on the inclusion of Muslims in Western liberal democracies. It has an unusual substantive focus, sidestepping anti-Muslim attitudes in favour of the tolerant majority and the character and limitations of their tolerance. Moreover, the authors outline an innovative and rigorous ‘sequential factorial’ methodology, of repeated, refined public opinion experiments, which has much wider applicability.

Collaboration and Public Policy: Agency in the Pursuit of Public Purpose

By Helen Sullivan

This authoritative book represents the culmination of many years of work in public policy, offering an original synthesis of diverse elements that explain an enduring idea in public policy: collaboration.  Sullivan’s clarity of expression cuts a swathe through the sometimes-dense literature in this field.  Her insights provide a framework which future public policy scholars will be keen to use to explore a wide range of empirical contexts and analyses of the dynamics of collaborations.

Making Bureaucracy Work: Norms, Education and Public Service Delivery in Rural India

By Akshay Mangla

Drawing on several years of comprehensive in-depth fieldwork, this magisterial account of public service delivery in north India offers compelling and convincing innovations in a range of fields, including deliberative democracy and bureaucracy, multilevel governance, and policy implementation.  Exceptionally well written and methodologically sophisticated, the book’s theoretical and comparative ambition, range and scope make it an outstanding contribution to political studies.

No Other Planet

Mathias Thaler 

Thaler’s book brings together ‘constellations’ of political theory and speculative fiction in a fascinating and crucial conversation about how we might live in a climate-changed world. Engaging with three strands of utopian and dystopian imagining (organised around the questions ‘what if’, ‘if only’, and ‘if this goes on’), the author creatively illuminates modes of social dreaming and a range of possible futures.