Professor Eisenstadt's research focuses on the intersection of formal institutions and laws with informal institutions and practices, mostly in democratizing countries in Latin America. He is presently PI (along with Karleen West) of a National Science Foundation (NSF) project "Lawsuits for the Pacha Mama [Mother Earth] in Ecuador: Explaining the Determinants of New Indigenous Movements to Mitigate Environmental Impacts." Using a survey conducted with Ecuadorian partners, he and his co-author are studying poor, rural, indigenous communities to understand how they overcome socioeconomic and geographic barriers to launch new forms of social movements relying on Western science and international collaboration. The project stems from an earlier book, Politics, Identity, and Mexico's Indigenous Rights Movements (Cambridge University Press, 2011).
His research also looks at the relationship between constitution-making processes and democratization across scores of nations, and the implementation of judicial reforms in Mexico and Latin America. Co-author of a fall 2015 piece in the American Political Science Review, he is also the author of Courting Democracy in Mexico: Party Strategies and Electoral Institutions (Cambridge University Press, 2004 based on his University of California, San Diego dissertation), and dozens of journal articles and book chapters. His research has been funded by the Fulbright Commission, the National Security Education Program (NSEP), the Ford and Mellon foundations, USAID, and the NSF.
A former director of multiple United States Agency for International Development (USAID) grants in Mexico, Eisenstadt has helped train hundreds of stakeholders in judicial reform implementation, electoral observation and other government processes there. Formerly an award-winning print journalist and Capitol Hill staffer, Eisenstadt has worked as a consultant for USAID, the Organization of American States, and several development companies, including, most recently, Democracy International (2015). From 2009-2012 Eisenstadt served as chair of the Department of Government, has been the Doctoral Program Director there, and is presently vice chair of the Faculty Senate (2015-16). He has held visiting appointments at El Colegio de México and CIDE (Centro de Investigación y Docencia Económicas) in Mexico City, Harvard University, the University of California, San Diego, and the Latin American Social Science Faculty (FLACSO) in Quito, Ecuador.