The Suntory Prize for Social Sciences and Humanities is awarded each year to individuals who have made original, distinguished contributions in research or criticism through publications that adopt a broad perspective on society and culture.
The Prize is awarded in four categories: Political Science and Economics, Literary and Art Criticism, Life and Society, and History and Civilization. Selection committees in each category recommend and select the winning individuals and works. Winners receive a plaque and two million yen.
Works selected for consideration will have been published in Japanese during the preceding calendar year. In particular, the selection committees seek individuals who are rising critics or researchers of considerable originality and future potential, and works that distinctively represent the author's views or emphasis. The candidate's other published works to date may also be taken into consideration in the selection process.
Since there are few prizes to honor achievements in criticism and research on a broad basis, an important role of the Suntory Prize for Social Sciences and Humanities is to showcase free-ranging criticism and research unconstrained by conventional categories.
A total of 275 people have been awarded the Prize from 1979, when it was established, through the 32th Prize in 2010. These individuals have won acclaim for innovative approaches to their subjects, for research at the boundaries of conventional scholarship, and for opening up new frontiers.