Rivera and her co-author, Hamilton lecturer David W. Rivera assessed whether democratic institutions socialize their members into democratic values. Using survey data collected in Russia in the mid-1990s, they evaluated the impact of experiences serving in elected legislatures and non-governmental civic groups on the value systems of both federal bureaucrats and parliamentarians. Their statistical analyses found no evidence that participation in the many independent groups that proliferated after the initiation of Mikhail Gorbachev's reforms altered their members' values in a democratic direction. However, on the basis of both quantitative and qualitative evidence, they also found that active involvement in the core institution of representative government—the parliament—served to habituate Russian elites into the ways of democracy.
Assistant Professor of Government Sharon Werning Rivera presented a paper titled "Parliament as Teacher in Post-Communist Russia: Can Democracy be Learned?" at the Mid-Atlantic Slavic Conference of the American Association for the Advancement of Slavic Studies, held at Barnard College in New York City on March 31.