Bio

Dr. Brenda Seaver has worked as a CIA analyst for 14 years.  She began her career covering East Asia and has spent the last decade focusing on various countries in South America.  Between 2010-12, Seaver was a Latin America Regional Analyst at the US Department of State's Bureau of Intelligence and Research.  She recently completed a two-year rotation to the CIA's Red Cell'--a unit dedicated to "out-of-the-box" analysis--where she has written on Latin America and other issues from an alternative analysis angle.  Prior to joining the CIA, Seaver was a lecturer at the University of California, Irvine, where she taught courses on international relations and published journal articles on diverse topics.  She has a bachelor's degree in psychology from Pomona College and a doctorate in political science from the University of California, Irvine.

Project Summary

Political theorists, analysts, and policymakers have long viewed the middle class as essential to stable democracy because this key socioeconomic group drives economic development and growth, demands government accountability, and moderates radical forces.  Indeed, the dramatic growth of the middle class globally in the last two decades would seem to reinforce Francis Fukuyama's recent declaration that liberal democracy "still has no real competitors."  Dr. Seaver, by contrast, examines how middle class growth in developing countries is creating negative unintended consequences that could worsen if future growth projections prove accurate.  Some of these costs include increased social tensions and political instability that arise during periods of social change; declining support for democracy as democratic regimes struggle to meet middle class demands; rising drug consumption; and a more fertile environment for terrorist groups whose worldviews clash with middle class demands for greater civil and political rights and support for capitalism.

Major Publications

"The Regional Sources of Power-Sharing Failure: The Case of Lebanon." (2000) Political Science Quarterly, 115:247-79.

"The Public Dimension of Foreign Policy." (1998) International Journal of Press/Politics, 3:65-91.

"Stratospheric Ozone Protection: IR Theory and the Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer." (1997) Environmental Politics, 6:31-67.

Resources