Date of Award

Winter 2018

Project Type


Program or Major

Political Science

Degree Name

Master of Arts

First Advisor

Mary F Malone

Second Advisor

Madhavi D Devasher

Third Advisor

Jeannie Sowers


This is an analysis of the countries of Argentina, Chile, and Uruguay which argues that public support for democracy and the rule of law in these countries is impacted by the institutional reform processes which are mediated by the social cleavages within these states. The paper begins with a qualitative overview of each country’s experiences before, during, and after military dictatorship. The overview assesses the degree to which each country underwent successful institutional reform at the time of transition to democracy, and how institutional reform impacts public perceptions. Also built within the qualitative overview are the historical experiences which ultimately divide these societies into clusters which voice support for various initiatives based upon their socioeconomic and class identities. Institutional reform and these cleavages, crafted by the historical experience, thus act in conjunction with one another to impact public perceptions. Subsequent sections take a closer look at the public opinion data to conduct cross-national and within-region analyses. The paper concludes with what lessons can be learned from the qualitative and qualitative analyses conducted.