• Director, Center for Latin American Studies (CLAS)
  • Associate Professor, Political Science Department


  • “Authoritarian Legacies and Democratic Consolidation in Mexico,” Latin American Politics and Society (Fall) 51 (3): 143-59. (2009). Published, 2009.
  • “Enriquecer el estudio comparado del comportamiento político a través de la investigación de campo” “The Importance of Field Research in the Study of Comparative Political Behavior,” Política y Gobierno.XXII (2): 417-425. The purpose of this essay is to encourage more methodological pluralism in the study of political behavior. In particular, it builds a case for more in-depth case studies, field research and qualitative studies that employ face-to face in-depth interviews and oral histories. Not only do the strengths of these research methods offset core weaknesses of survey research, they have the potential to yield important new theoretical insights. Published, 08/25/2015.
  • Goldsmith, M. M. & Holzner, C. A. (2015). Foreign-Born Voting Behavior in Local Elections: Evidence From New Immigrant Destinations. SAGE Publications. Published, 01/15/2015.
  • Mexico: Weak State, Weak Democracy, in "The Quality of Democracy in Latin America, Daniel H. Levine and Jose Molina, eds. Lynne Rienner Publishers. Published, 02/2011.
  • "Poverty of Democracy: The Institutional Roots of Political Participation in Mexico." (2010) Published by the University of Pittsburgh Press. Published, 11/15/2010.

Research Statement

I am most interested in understanding how and why individuals come to participate in civic and political activities in the countries where they live.  I am especially interested in understanding the institutional factors that lead to the inclusion or exclusion of marginal or vulnerable groups, such as immigrants, the poor, or, in certain contexts, women.  Whether or not marginal groups have equal  access to political leaders and more or less equal opportunities to voice their interests has important implications for representation, accountability and the quality of democratic systems, not to mention for core issues of social justice and equity.  I have explored these questions in the context of Mexico in various journal articles and in my book Poverty of Democracy: The Institutional Roots of Political Participation in Mexico (Pittsburgh University Press 2010).


Currently I am working on two large research projects that ask similar questions but expand the scope of the research significantly.  The first is a comparative study of political participation in Latin America, which I am pursuing in collaborations Carew Boulding (University of Colorado, Boulder).  For this project, we will analyze survey data to describe and explain patterns of political participation in 18 Latin American democracies, with special attention to the political participation of the poor.  Because of the quality of the survey data, we will be able to examine not just voting behavior, but also participation in protests, political contacting, and campaign activity.


The second project, funded by the Russell Sage Foundation, uses both ethnographic  and survey research strategies to investigate the political activity of legal and illegal immigrants in the United States.  One aspect of this project uses an original data set that links official voter records in the state of Utah with official demographic databases to study the voting behavior of both the native and foreign born. Because the dataset contains more than 1.3 million records, including more than 20,000 immigrant citizens who are registered to vote, I am able to do much more detailed analysis of voting patterns of immigrants from different countries and regions than is possible with conventional survey data. Another aspect of the study combines in-depth interviews with undocumented immigrants who are active in politics with an original survey of 500 legal and undocumented immigrants in the state of Utah.  The goal of this study is to better understand how common civic and political participation is among undocumented immigrants, and to better understand the factors that encourage the participation of noncitizens in the U.S. political system.

Research Keywords

  • Political Science
  • Political Participation
  • Latin America
  • Immigration
  • Democratization
  • Comparative Government or Politics


  • “The State and Political Participation in Mexico,” paper presented and the Annual Conference of the American Political Science Association, Sept. 3-6, 2009, Toronto, Canada. Conference Paper, Refereed, Presented, 09/03/2009.
  • “Poverty, Inequality and Political Participation in Latin American Democracies,” talk presented at Stanford University, . Invited Talk/Keynote, Presented, 03/09/2018.
  • “Mexico’s Difficult Moment,” Paper presented at the University of New Mexico. Invited Talk/Keynote, Presented, 03/05/2018.
  • “Political Parties, Political Mobilization, and Political Equality in Latin America,” Paper presented at the annual conference of the American Political Science Association (APSA), San Francisco August 31-September 3, 2017. Conference Paper, Refereed, Presented, 09/01/2017.
  • “Poverty and Political Participation in Latin America,” invited presentation at the Edmund A. Walsh School of Foreign Service, Georgetown University. Invited Talk/Keynote, Presented, 11/30/2015.
  • “Is Local-Level Activism a Catalyst for Immigrant Political Incorporation?” paper presented at the 69th Annual conference of the Midwest Political Science Association (MPSA), Chicago, March 31-April 2, 2011 (with Melissa Goldsmith). Conference Paper, Presented, 04/2011.
  • “Political Efficacy, Representation, and Involvement: Assessing the Role of Local Context,” paper presented at the 69th Annual conference of the Midwest Political Science Association (MPSA), Chicago, March 31-April 2, 2011 (with Melissa Goldsmith). Conference Paper, Presented, 04/2011.
  • “Integration of the Documented and Undocumented in a New Destination,” paper presented as part of the Policy at the Podium forum, Institute for Public and International Affairs (IPIA), University of Utah, February 11, 2011. Invited Talk/Keynote, Presented, 02/2011.
  • “Utah’s Immigration Legislation,” invited presentation for the Women’s Democratic Club, Salt Lake City, UT, January 8, 2011. Invited Talk/Keynote, Presented, 01/2011.
  • "Mexico: Weak State, Weak Democracy" Talk presented at the University of Michigan. Invited Talk/Keynote, Presented, 11/12/2010.

Grants, Contracts & Research Gifts

  • “Political Incorporation of Undocumented and Documented Immigrants in a New Immigrant Destination: Utah,” Russell Sage Foundation. PI: Claudio Holzner. Co-PI(s): Ken Jameson, Kim Korinek, Thomas Maloney, Ming Wen, Julie Stewart. Russell Sage Foundation, 07/31/2008 - 09/01/2010. Total project budget to date: $238,000.00


  • "Poverty of Democracy: Institutional Roots of Political Participation in Mexico. Claudio Holzner, 2009. Book to be published by the University of Pittsburgh PRess in 2010.


  • German, functional.
  • Italian, fluent.
  • Spanish, fluent.

Geographical Regions of Interest

  • Cuba
  • Latin America and the Caribbean
  • Mexico
  • United States of America