Erica S. Simmons Associate Professor of Political Science and International Studies University of Wisconsin–Madison
Erica Simmons is a Professor of Political Science and International Studies and holds the Department of Political Science Board of Visitors Professorship at the University of Wisconsin–Madison. She has also been awarded a Romnes Faculty Fellowship. Simmons holds a courtesy appointment with the Department of Sociology.
Simmons' research and teaching are motivated by an interest in contentious politics, particularly in Latin America. Simmons received an AB from Harvard College (1999) and a Ph.D. from the University of Chicago (2012). Her current work explores the intersection of market reforms and political resistance in the region and her dissertation on the topic was awarded the Latin American Studies Association/Oxfam America 2013 Martin Diskin award. Her recent book, Meaningful Resistance: Market Reforms and the Roots of Social Protest in Latin America (Cambridge University Press 2016) tackles questions of resistance to the marketization of subsistence in Latin America. The book was recognized by the Collective Behavior and Social Movements Section of the American Sociological Association with the 2017 Charles Tilly Distinguished Contribution to Scholarship Book Award. She has published three related articles, "Market Reforms and Water Wars" (World Politics), "Grievances do matter in mobilization" (Theory and Society), and "Corn, Markets, and Mobilization in Mexico" (Comparative Politics). Simmons has also written on Bolivian politics more broadly; a co-authored article entitled "Coping by Colluding: Political Uncertainty and Promiscuous Powersharing in Indonesia and Bolivia" was published in Comparative Political Studies in November 2013. Work from her new project on how targets of social movements respond to mobilization, "Targets, Grievances, and Social Movement Trajectories," was published with Comparative Political Studies in November 2018 (Online First).
Simmons also writes on qualitative methods. Her co-authored article, "Informative Regress: Critical Antecedents in Comparative Politics" was published in Comparative Political Studies in July 2010; "Comparison with an Ethnographic Sensibility" (co-authored with Nicholas Rush Smith) was published (January 2017) in PS: Political Science and Politics; and "The Case for Comparative Ethnography (also with Nicholas Rush Smith) was published in Comparative Politics in 2019. Papers related to all three articles received the Sage Paper Award for the best paper developing or applying qualitative methods presented at the American Political Association Annual Meeting (2008 and 2016). Simmons also co-authored an article with Diana Fu on ethnography and contentious politics ("Ethnographic Approaches to Contentious Politics: The What, How, and Why") that appeared in Comparative Political Studies in 2021.
Simmons' most recent work on qualitative methods is an edited volume produced together with Nicholas Rush Smith: Rethinking Comparison: Innovative Methods for Qualitative Political Inquiry (Cambridge University Press, 2021). The book is designed to as a guide for scholars interested in conducting non-controlled comparative research. The volume brings together chapters from more than a dozen leading methods scholars from across the discipline of political science with the aim of diversifying the repertoire of comparative methods available to students of politics. The book offers readers clear suggestions for what kinds of comparisons might be possible, why they are useful, and how to execute them.
Simmons' research has been funded by the National Science Foundation, the Fulbright Commission, the Mellon Foundation, and the Tinker Foundation, the University of Wisconsin–Madison, and the University of Chicago, among others.
Simmons was recently awarded a 2024 Romnes Faculty Fellowship by the University of Wisconsin–Madison in recognition of her research accomplishments.
Rethinking Comparison: Innovative Methods for Qualitative Political Inquiry was released by Cambridge University Press in October 2021. You can find the book on Cambridge's website here and on Barnes and Noble's website here.
Meaningful Resistance: Market Reforms and the Roots of Social Protest in Latin America was honored by the Collective Behavior and Social Movements Section of the American Sociological Association with the 2017 Charles Tilly Distinguished Contribution to Scholarship Book Award. You can find the book on Amazon here or the Cambridge University Press site here.
Header image, photograph of a mural commemorating the 10th anniversary of protests against the privatization of water in Cochabamba, Bolivia. Mona Caron, photographer. Headshot courtesy of McKenna Patterson Photography