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Natalia Forrat

Natalia Forrat is a WCED Postdoctoral Fellow for the 2018-20 academic years. She completed her Ph.D. in Sociology at Northwestern University in 2017. Her research focuses on state-society relationships, state capacity, and political regimes. As a postdoctoral fellow, Natalia will be working on a book manuscript that reveals the different grassroots-level mechanisms that maintain authoritarianism in strong and weak states. Using quantitative subnational analysis and contrasting case studies of Russian regions, the book will demonstrate that rulers have to use different political strategies depending on the pre-existing model of state-society relationships. If people believe that the main defender of their group interests is the state, they tend to cooperate with the state representatives which makes it possible to build centralized state structures. These structures penetrate society and create the capacity to control and facilitate grassroots-level political processes with little need to use coercion. If, however, people believe that the main defender of their group interests is not the state but rather another collective entity, they resist state intervention in community matters and turn the state's requests for cooperation into clientelistic bargains for short-term economic rewards. The power of the ruler in this type of society is much more dependent on available economic resources and on the capacity to coerce when the economic resources dry up.

In addition to the book project, Natalia is a research affiliate of the Governance Project at the Center for Democracy, Development and the Rule of Law at Stanford University. The project studies state capacity by focusing on the organizational cultures of bureaucracies in different countries, in part by deploying a survey of bureaucrats in China, Brazil, India, and Ukraine.

Prior to beginning of her Ph.D. at Northwestern, Natalia received a Specialist Diploma in sociology with honors from Tomsk State University, was a senior lecturer in the Department of Sociology at Tomsk State University, worked at a Russian NGO, received an M.A. in higher education from the University of Michigan, and worked in a survey company in the U.S. She is originally from Seversk in Tomsk region, Russia.


  • Ph.D., Sociology, Northwestern University, 2017
  • M.A., Higher Education, University of Michigan, 2008
  • Diploma, Sociology, Tomsk State University (Russia), 2002

Awards and Honors

  • Postdoctoral Visiting Fellow, Kellogg Institute for International Studies, University of Notre Dame (2017-18)
  • Predoctoral Fellow; Center on Democracy, Development and the Rule of Law; Stanford University (2016-17)
  • Fulbright Foreign Student, University of Michigan (2006-08)
Following her WCED Fellowship, Natalia continued her affiliation with WCED as a Visiting Associate, and was also a research affiliate at the Governance Project at the Center on Democracy, Development, and the Rule of Law, Stanford University.