Graduation Year


Document Type




Degree Granting Department

Government and International Affairs

Major Professor

Bernd Reiter, Ph.D

Committee Member

Mohsen Milani, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Earl Conteh-Morgan, Ph.D.


Charles Tilly, concilium plebis, mutually binding consultation, Roman republic, tribunes of the plebs


This study intends to analyze the importance of institutional trust in the process of democratization. In this particular case, the period from 494 to 88 BC in the Roman republic is examined. The theories of Charles Tilly and Robert Putnam are utilized to more deeply examine the concepts and manifestations of trust and democratization. Using the ideas and theories of these authors together provides a unique insight into the means by which a population comes to trust that government is responsive, and further comes to expect increased responsiveness in the future. Institutional trust as an element of mutually binding consultation will be explored via proposed and successful plebeian legislation in the Roman republic. This study examines legislative actions, defined as proposed legislation (rogationes) alongside successful legislation (plebiscita and leges), which originated in the plebeian assembly, the concilium plebis, under the guidance of the tribunes of the plebs, the elected officials of the plebeian population at Rome. In all, 236 legislative actions between 494 and 88 BC are divided into four themes of democratizing action, termed equality, broadening of participation, protection and mutually binding consultation, and then further organized into one of nine sub-categories for each theme. Findings suggest that the final period of 192 to 88 BC, which is period of frenzied plebeian political activity through the concilium plebis and the tribunes of the plebs, is made possible by a marked increase in legislative actions related to mutually binding consultation in the pervious period (292 to 193 BC). These findings support the claim by Tilly and Putnam that democratization can occur only with increases in institutional trust.