Graduation Year


Document Type




Degree Granting Department

Government and International Affairs

Major Professor

Harry E. Vanden, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Bernd Reiter, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Peter Funke, Ph.D.


Democracy, Bolivia, Comparative Politics, Democratic Theory, Political Transformation, Contentious Politics, Protest, Latin America, Trust Networks


Many Latin American countries which underwent democratic regime transformations within the last thirst years have seemingly stalled. Unable to meet the demands of their citizens, which grow increasingly restless and confrontational, they have become subjected to a series of economic and political crises. Contemporary democratic theorists are at a loss to explain why this region has failed to deepen over time. The purpose of this paper is threefold: it questions the analytic utility of contemporary liberal and representative models, it argues for the inclusion of an alternative process-oriented model provided by Charles Tilly (2007), and tests this model through a partial application to Bolivia from 1993-2009 in hopes of elucidating a clearer state of democratization than contemporary models offer.

The analysis portion focuses on the incorporation of networks of trust into public politics, and determines what effect(s) this had on Bolivian democracy during the time period under review. It is hypothesized that an increase in the integration of interpersonal trust networks with public politics will result in democratization, which is measured through changes in demand incorporation, protection, equality, and state-society accountability. A diachronic analytical narrative is constructed to identify the mechanisms and signs associated with the emergence and incorporation of trust networks into public politics and then evaluated in terms of state-society transformation. The findings suggest that new trust networks were created following the political restructuring done during the Sánchez de Lozada presidency, deepened over the next four presidencies, and integrated in their fullest capacity during the first part of Evo Morales's term. This process affected the contemporary representative and structural nature of the state itself, and shows positive changes in demand incorporation, protection, equality, and state-society accountability. Finally, it is concluded that when compared with popular measures of democracy, this model has more explanatory power, and Bolivia did democratize within the period of analysis.