Danielle Lussier, Ph.D.


Grinnell College

Phone: 6412694557

City: Grinnell, Iowa - 50112

Country: United States

About Me:

Danielle N. Lussier is an Associate Professor of political science at Grinnell College, Iowa. Her research focuses on democratization, public opinion and political participation, and religion and politics, with a particular emphasis on Eurasia and Indonesia. She holds a PhD and MA in political science from the University of California, Berkeley and a BA in Russian and East European Studies from Wesleyan University. Lussier is the author of Constraining Elites in Russia and Indonesia: Political Participation and Regime Survival (Cambridge University Press, 2016) and The Many Faces of Political Islam: Religion and Politics in Muslim Societies (with Mohammed Ayoob) (University of Michigan Press, forthcoming 2019). Her work has appeared in Journal of Democracy, Politics & Religion, Problems of Post-Communism, Post-Soviet Affairs, and Slavic Review. Prior to earning her graduate degrees, Lussier worked as a research analyst focusing on Russian regional affairs for the EastWest Institute, and as a research assistant and research associate at the Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs at Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government, where she engaged in policy analysis on Russian democratization, U.S.-Russian relations, and nuclear non-proliferation. A fluent speaker of Russian and an advanced speaker of Indonesian, Lussier has held visiting scholar appointments at Siberian Federal University in Krasnoyarsk, Russia, and the University of Gadjah Mada in Yogyakarta, Indonesia. She has conducted fieldwork in Yaroslavl, Penza, Moscow, Kazan, and Krasnoyarsk, Russia and Jakarta, Yogyakarta, Surabaya, and Medan, Indonesia. Her research has been supported by fellowships from the International Research and Exchanges Board, the University of California-Berkeley, Grinnell College, the Kennan Institute, and the Global Religion Research Initiative.

Research Interests

Religion & Politics

Comparative Democratization

Political Participation

Asian Politics

Non-Democratic Regimes

Post-Communist Politics

Countries of Interest



My Research:

Lussier's book Constraining Elites in Russia and Indonesia: Political Participation and Regime Survival (Cambridge University Press, 2016) examines why democracy succeeds in some countries but not others, comparing the post-transition experiences of two cases of recent democratization: Russia and Indonesia. Based on original ethnographic research and analysis of nine public opinion surveys, this book argues that patterns in non-voting political participation help to explain why democracy survived in Indonesia while it failed in Russia. Lussier's current book project, Mobilizing the Devout: Mosques, Churches, and Political Participation in Indonesia, examines the role of religious practice on political engagement in Indonesia. She has conducted nine months of field work in Yogyakarta, Indonesia, including participant observation of close to 400 events in churches and mosques in the city. In partnership with colleagues at the University of Gadjah Mada, she has completed an original survey among worshippers in these communities.


Journal Articles:

(2019) Mosques, Churches, and Civic Skill Opportunities in Indonesia, Society for the Scientific Study of Religion

This article examines the role of houses of worship as institutions where individuals acquire civic skills that can be deployed for political participation in the world's largest Muslim‐majority democracy: Indonesia. Drawing on participant observation and interviews in Muslim, Protestant, and Catholic religious communities in Yogyakarta, Indonesia, this article investigates three questions: (1) What opportunities exist for individuals worshipping in Indonesian churches and mosques to develop and practice civic skills as part of their religious engagement? (2) Does civic skill opportunity vary across religious denominations? and (3) What factors might explain variation across different religious settings? The study shows that mosques offer fewer prospects for their worshippers to develop civic skills than do churches. These denominational differences can be explained by a house of worship's management practices, which are shaped by its degree of autonomy, style of worship, and the relative size of the religious denomination.

(2016) Men, Muslims, and Attitudes toward Sex-Based Inequality (co-authored with M. Steven Fish), Cambridge Core

Gender-based inequality is often regarded as a salient characteristic of Muslim societies, yet few works have systematically compared the status of women in Muslim and non-Muslim communities. Fish (2011) finds a gender gap in structural indicators of inequality in Muslim-majority countries that cannot be explained by levels of economic development, raising questions about whether attitudes favoring inequality are more prominent among Muslims. We investigate the impact of structural-situational factors and religious identification on attitudes toward gender-based inequality using hierarchical-level models. We find that: (1) Muslim self-identification and the size of a country's Muslim population predict attitudes supportive of inequality; (2) an individual's gender has a stronger effect on attitudes than does religious identification; and (3) measures of structural inequality also shape attitudes. The effects of these variables remain strong when we consider other contextual elements, such as gross domestic product per capita, education, age, location in the Middle East, and fuels dependence.

(2012) Indonesia: The Benefits of Civic Engagement (co-authored with M. Steven Fish), National Endowment for Democracy

Indonesia’s successful democratization poses a puzzle. As a vast, lower-middle income country with scant tradition of open politics, Indonesia did not seem to be a good bet for robust democracy. But Indonesia enjoys an advantage: extraordinary levels of civic engagement. Indonesians participate in organizations at unusually high rates and display an exceptional level of interpersonal sociability. Spirited associational life has enabled Indonesians to constrain elites and sustain self-government by cultivating a sense of efficacy, fostering the cultivation and transfer of civic skills, and creating opportunities for individuals to be recruited into politics. Indonesia demonstrates how civic engagement can abet democratization.

(2011) What is the Leninist Legacy? Assessing Twenty Years of Scholarship (co-authored with Jody LaPorte), Cambridge Core

In this review essay, Jody LaPorte and Danielle N. Lussier examine the “legacies” paradigm dominating postcommunist scholarship in the social sciences. The legacies paradigm has produced a growing list of factors that qualify as historical antecedents to contemporary outcomes without establishing a set of shared standards to guide comparative analysis. Scholars have paid less attention to developing a conceptual definition of legacy, thereby limiting our ability to evaluate the importance of historical factors versus more proximate causes. This critique presents a thoughtful analysis of the communist legacy, develops a typology that can be used to categorize legacy variables for meaningful comparison, and brings the concept into discussion with the broader literature on historical institutions and path dependency. By suggesting tools to aid comparative study, LaPorte and Lussier’s goal is to stimulate both conceptual and empirical analysis in evaluating the effect of communism on contemporary outcomes.

(2011) Contacting and Complaining: Political Participation and the Failure of Democracy in Russia, Taylor & Francis

This article analyzes mass political participation as a factor contributing to the failure of Russian democracy. Data from public opinion surveys and firsthand interviews are used to evaluate patterns in Russian citizens' engagement in nonvoting political participation from the late Soviet era to the present. The article asks whether Russians expanded their participation in acts constraining elites, such as party-development work and protests, and investigates practices of contacting public officials, considering the implications of contacting for the deepening of democratic institutions. The factors contributing to patterns of participation, including the weakness of Russia's party system and the paucity of Russian civil society, are also discussed.

(2010) From Solidarity to Division: An Analysis of Lech Walesa's Transition to Constituted Leadership, elsevier

This essay analyzes the capacity and constraints of authority in the contexts of constituted vs. non-constituted leadership. Building on Ronald Heifetz’s distinction between informal and formal authority as the basis for exercising leadership and broadcasting power, this paper evaluates the role of Lech Walesa as the leader of the Solidarity social movement and as president of Poland. It argues that the constraints of constituted authority are significantly higher than those imposed on non-constituted leaders. As a result, while constituted leaders may have greater resources available to broadcast power, the allocation of these resources entails higher expectation for their custodians. This analysis concludes that Walesa did not cope effectively with the constraints and expectations of formal authority and was more effective as a non-constituted leader.

(2009) Epidemic Breakpoint: Confronting HIV/AIDS in Russia's Regions (co-authored with Marcy E. McCullaugh), Taylor & Francis

Comparative study of four Russian regions suggests that "horizontal" approaches involving regional-level actors and NGOs may foster more comprehensive and flexible strategies for not only combating but also preventing infections with HIV/AIDS.

Books Written:

(2016) Constraining Elites in Russia and Indonesia: Political Participation and Regime Survival, Cambridge University Press

This book examines why democracy succeeds in some countries but not others, comparing the post-transition experiences of two cases of contemporary democratization: Russia and Indonesia. Following authoritarian regimes, democracy eroded in Russia but flourished in Indonesia--so confounding dominant theories of democratization that predicted the opposite outcomes based on their levels of socioeconomic development and histories of statehood. Identifying key behaviors and patterns of political participation as a factor, Lussier interweaves ethnographic interview and quantitative public opinion data to expand our understanding on how mass political participation contributes to a democracy's survival.

(2000) The Republics and Regions of the Russian Federation (co-edited with Robert Orttung and Anna Paretskaya), M E Sharpe

Russia is divided into seven federal districts encompassing 89 units -- regions (oblasts), territories (krais), and republics. As central power has weakened, the importance of these units and their local leadership has increased commensurately. This work brings together in one volume all basic political, economic, and demographic data on every territorial unit of the Russian Federation, its local government structure, and electoral history current through the spring 2000 elections and the summer 2000 reorganization. Each entry includes an extensive profile of the president, governor, or prime minister, and an overview of local political trends, policies, economy, and business conditions.

Book Chapters:

(2018) Attitudes toward Polygyny: Experimental Evidence from Six Countries (co-authored with Rose McDermott, Michael Dickerson, M. Steven Fish, and Jonathan Cowden), Cornell University Press

This chapter in the book "The Evils of Polygyny: Evidence of its Harm to Women, Men, and Society" analyzes questions from a survey experiment that gauges popular tolerance toward polygyny in Indonesia, Uganda, Jordan, Lebanon, Mongolia, and three states in India.

(2011) Personal Religiosity and Religion in Politics (co-authored with M. Steven Fish), Oxford University Press

This chapter in M. Steven Fish's book "Are Muslims Distinctive?" uses several multilevel models of data from the World Values Survey to examine the relationship between religious self-identification and religiosity in order to investigate the question of whether self-identified Muslims are more "religious" than adherents of other faith traditions.

(2011) Social Capital and Personal Morality (co-authored with M. Steven Fish), Oxford University Press

This chapter in M. Steven Fish's "Are Muslims Distinctive?" uses several multi-level models of World Values Survey data to analyze measures of social capital, sociability, and tolerance for behaviors that are frequently perceived as dishonest or intolerant.

(2002) The Role of Russia's Governors in the 1999-2000 Federal Elections, Manchester University Press

This book chapter examines the role of Russia's regional executives in shaping the party formations that impacted the 1999 State Duma elections and the 2000 Russian presidential elections.

Media Appearances:

TV Appearances:

(2019) City Channel 4, Iowa City, IA

Broadcast invited lecture at the Iowa City Council of Foreign Relations on the topic, "Political Elites in Putin's Russia."


(2017) Talk Show: Two Guys Discussing Russia Over Pastries

Interview about book "Constraining Elites in Russia and Indonesia" for YouTube series directed by Robert Orttung and Sufian Zhemukhov, produced by George Washington University