Ruth Collier, Professor

Closed (1) Creating Partisans: New Political Parties and Social Movements in Latin America

Applications for Spring 2019 are now closed for this project.

In democratic regimes, political parties are usually thought of as playing a central role in effective democratic representation, acting as intermediaries linking society and the state. Yet many new democracies in Latin America, Eastern Europe, Africa and beyond have been characterized by unstable political parties and even breakdowns of entire party systems. This research project explores the different trends in the stability of new party systems in developing countries. Why do some new party systems stabilize, while others remain in constant flux? Why are some new parties able take root in society and establish stable ties with voters, while others fail to do so?

Members of the research team will be involved in the process of identifying and analyzing key information about political parties and ties to social cleavage organization such as labor and indigenous movements in Latin America.

Specific tasks may include:
1. Compiling and analyzing information on political elites in Bolivia
2. Transcribing and analyzing interviews with leaders of political parties and labor and indigenous organizations (from Mexico)
3. Analyzing newspaper articles on the relationship of indigenous organizations and other social movements with political parties in Bolivia, Ecuador, and Mexico
4. Compiling and examining electoral data from various developing countries
5. Literature research and management
6. Editorial assistance

Skills learned: By participating in this learning and research experience, members of the research team will gain an increased understanding of the complex relationship between political parties, organizations representing societal interests, and voters and gain first-hand experience conducting social science research. They will also gain bibliographic research skills and learn about qualitative and quantitative data analysis.

Day-to-day supervisor for this project: Mathias Poertner, Post-Doc

Qualifications: Applicants should be comfortable using Excel. For some tasks, previous coursework in political science and proficiency in Spanish are highly valued, but not required (depending on the task taken on by the specific student).

Weekly Hours: to be negotiated

Off-Campus Research Site: Members of the research team are welcome to conduct most work from their residence. The research team will have meetings once a week.

Closed (2) Work and Politics in the Digital Economy

Closed. This professor is continuing with Fall 2018 apprentices on this project; no new apprentices needed for Spring 2019.


The new digital economy has redefined approaches to work. The names of the companies associated with this new economy are familiar—Uber, Lyft, TaskRabbit, Spoonrocket. The growing popularity of such companies has generated a clash of interests. Platform workers, entrepreneurs, investors, and displaced businesses/workers are all involved in a complex political process to determine how the government should address this rapidly growing sector of the economy. Should Uber be regulated like a transportation company or a technology company? Are TaskRabbit workers deserving of employment benefits? Is Lyft legally responsible for pedestrians injured/killed by drivers who are not currently engaged in a ride? Such questions have defined the rapidly evolving process of platform regulation. This project will analyze the complex political process that determines how city and state governments regulate companies involved in the platform economy.

Tasks for student researchers will involve analyses of existing regulations, reviews of news articles on regulation of the platform economy, and examinations of social media sites of workers. This opportunity should be of particular interest to political scientists, social media analysts, aspiring attorneys, and those interested in technology/start-ups. The primary focus of this project will be an analysis of the United States, but those interested in these regulations internationally should feel free to apply. Those seeking to participate in the international dimension of this project should have appropriate language training.

Day-to-day supervisor for this project: Christopher Carter

Qualifications: Relevant qualifications include a talent for good organiza­tion and careful preparation of office materials; experience with Internet searches, MSWord and other software (for example, Chrome, Evernote, Zotero, and Android); background in the coordina­tion, checking, proof-reading, and editing of manuscripts and bibliographies; and excellent writing skills. All applicants should be familiar with Facebook and Twitter. Please send one-page resume – including GPA, experience relevant to above tasks, and expected date of graduation – to Please explicitly state in your application which specific URAP project (out of the two projects offered by Professor Collier) you are applying for!

Weekly Hours: to be negotiated