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Dr. Matthew Rhodes-Purdy
Assistant Professor, Clemson University

I am an Assistant Professor at Clemson University. I received my PhD in Government (comparative politics and methodology) from the University of Texas at Austin in 2016.


My research uses democratic theory and social psychology to suggest solutions to difficult puzzles in political behavior. My research topics include political system attitudes (especially regime support), populism, and the interaction of political economy and culture. I use both qualitative and cutting-edge quantitative methods to test these solutions. My regional focus is on Latin America, though I also study the United States and Europe.


Democratic theory and democratization

  • Examining empirical assumptions made by competing branches of democratic theory.

  • Explaining democratic deepening and decay

Political Behavior/Public Opinion

  • Analyzing how political institutions, economic factors, and cultural change interact to shape individual attitudes and political choices.

  • Using political psychological concepts (e.g. anxiety, efficacy)

  • Specific topics of interest include regime support, populism, and prejudice.

Political psychology

  • My work focuses on the role of efficacy and anxiety in play in shaping political ideas and behavior.

Political economy and culture

  • Analyzing how growing economic insecurity has intensified the cultural backlash that animates populist movements in the developed world.

Research methods

  • Employing mixed-methods approaches, utilizing qualitative methods and advanced quantitative techniques.

  • ​Methodological specialties:

    • Experiments

    • Structural Equation Modeling (SEM) 

    • Multilevel models

    • Conceptualization and measurement


2018 - present

Clemson University

Assistant Professor

2017 - 2018

Washington University in St. Louis

Postdoctoral Research Associate

2016 - 2017

Boise State University

Visiting Assistant Professor



University of Texas at Austin, 2016

Department of Government

Subfields: Comparative Politics and Methodology

Dissertation title: Beyond the balance sheet: participation, performance, and regime support in Latin America

Committee: Kurt Weyland (Chair), Wendy Hunter, Raul Madrid, Zachary Elkins, Pamela Paxton.

Awards and Honors

David Rockefeller Center for Latin American Studies Best Dissertation Award

Harvard University

Juan Linz Award for Best Dissertation (Honorable Mention)

Comparative Democratization Section, the American Political Science Association

Fulbright Student Fellowship

Funding for study in Chile, 2012 - 2013 academic year

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