Alumni Dissertations and Theses

 
 

Alumni Dissertations and Theses

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  • The Violations Will Not Be Televised: Television News Coverage of Human Rights in the US & UK

    Author:
    Shawna Brandle
    Year of Dissertation:
    2013
    Program:
    Political Science
    Advisor:
    George Andreopoulos
    Abstract:

    This study briefly reviews the relevent communication studies and international relations literatures to build the foundation for the content analyses by defining terms and highlighting the most salient points for comparison between the media and human rights systems in the US and UK. It then moveson to three different types of content analysis on American television news broadcasts and two different types on British television news broadcasts, all with the goal of determining how those media systems cover human rights and how that coverage differs across media systems. First, a content analysis of all of the stories containing the phrase human rights from one US network news broadcast from 1990-2009 is conducted to see the amount of human rights coverage in the US in the post-Cold War period and examines both the issues and the countries that are covered in the context of human rights in the US. Then one month of transcripts/shooting scripts for evening news broadcasts in the US and UK in 1990 is examined to see what, if any, kinds of stories might be covering human rights issues without explicitly using the phrase human rights. Finally, a visual analysis of one week of evening news broadcasts for the US and UK from 1990-2009 is conducted, comparing which stories are covered in each country, as well as how they are covered. As it turns out, there is very little human rights coverage on television news, period. There is more human rights coverage in the UK than in the US, but not as much more as might have been expected, given the states' differing approaches to human rights and differing television media systems. One key difference between the two countries' coverage is the depth of coverage of human rights stories; once the UK covers a human rights issue, it tends to do it more thoroughly, from more angles, and with more explanation, so the audience is more likely to learn about human rights when they are covered on the BBC than when they are covered on NBC or ABC.  

  • ECONOMIC-MINDED PARTISANS: UNDERSTANDING HOW ECONOMIC PERCEPTIONS AND POLITICAL PARTISANSHIP CONDITION VOTING BEHAVIOR

    Author:
    Michael Brogan
    Year of Dissertation:
    2009
    Program:
    Political Science
    Advisor:
    Charles Tien
    Abstract:

    In this dissertation, I will introduce a new way to understand economic voting. I argue there is an interactive relationship between how the economy and the political environment are recognized among voters when making a vote choice. The framework for determining vote choice can be explained in the following manner: (1) During economic downturns, economic perceptions are the impetus for voters' decision making; because the economy is performing poorly, voters punish the incumbent government. (2) During economic prosperity, voters focus less on the economy and more on politics; incumbent presidents are rewarded for economic prosperity to a lesser extent because voters focus primarily on political matters. (3) During periods of mixed economic performance, voters focus on the economy; however, this focus is tinged by partisan filters. My findings indicate a significant interactive relationship existing between voters' partisanship and voters' economic perceptions in voting behavior which demonstrates that voters do not uniformly engage in economic voting. The model estimates that less partisan voters are more likely to act as economic voters by rewarding (punishing) incumbents for a good (bad) economy while stronger partisans typically use their economic perceptions as a means to reinforce existing partisan preferences when making their voting decisions. 

  • Politics as a Sphere of Wealth Accumulation: Cases of Gilded Age New York, 1855-1888

    Author:
    Jeffrey Broxmeyer
    Year of Dissertation:
    2014
    Program:
    Political Science
    Advisor:
    Frances Piven
    Abstract:

    This dissertation examines political wealth accumulation in American political development. Scholars have long understood the political system selects for "progressive ambition" for higher office. My research shows that officeseekers have also engaged in "progressive greed" for greater wealth. I compare the career trajectories of four prominent New York political figures during the Gilded Age: William Tweed, Fernando Wood, Roscoe Conkling, and Chester Arthur. Using correspondence, census, tax and land records, government reports, investigations, and newspaper coverage, I explain why each political figure chose to either seize or pass up opportunities for political wealth accumulation. I also examine the principal sources of fortunes and the types of political practices that generated them. Profit-maximizing behavior during the late nineteenth century was central to the consolidation of politics as a vocation. Career-altering events such as an election loss, or alternatively, the opportunity to join a dominant party faction, often recalibrated a politician's strategic calculation in the tradeoff between power and wealth. Furthermore, the dominant view of self-aggrandizement is that public officials either steal or extract rents, for example, in the form of bribes or loans. However, none of the large fortunes examined among my cases were built through conventional rent seeking, and peculation was only a minor source of income. Instead, the great fortunes were built through marketing-making activities. Tweed, Wood, Conkling, and Arthur accumulated political wealth by securing dominant market positions, or by creating new markets altogether. These figures accumulated productive personal property, or political capital, through control over political institutions, most notably by speculating in real estate, railroads, and finance, and by the establishment of politically dependent businesses, such as banks, lotteries, newspapers, and law firms.

  • Bulgaria's Delayed Transition: An Analysis of the Delays in Bulgaria's Political and Economic Transition from Socialism to Liberal Democracy

    Author:
    Robert Castle
    Year of Dissertation:
    2013
    Program:
    Political Science
    Advisor:
    Susan Woodward
    Abstract:

    Abstract Bulgaria's Delayed Transition: An Analysis of the Delays in Bulgaria's Political and Economic Transition from Socialism to Liberal Democracy by Robert Castle Adviser: Professor Susan L. Woodward Bulgaria's transitional pathway from socialism to free market liberal democracy has been extremely troubled and hesitant, with the European Union only satisfied that the country had created a functioning market economy in November 2003. Freedom House considered Bulgaria as a parliamentary democracy from 1991, but as a mixed statist-transitional economy until 1998. What accounts for the various delays, obstacles, and setbacks the country has faced since 1989? I argue that for the period 1989 to 1997, there was a lack of consensus among the Bulgarian public and elites on the pace and extent of political and economic reforms. This lack of consensus explains the delayed, inconsistent, and incomplete consolidation of democracy and a free market economy, as it permitted successive governments to avoid tough and unpopular policy decisions, at national, regional, and local levels, and ensured that those reforms that were undertaken were poorly and incompletely implemented. Lack of consensus allowed parliament to draft and approve poorly written legislation full of ambiguities and loopholes, while local politicians and government officials found it politically, ideologically, or economically expedient to delay and otherwise hinder the reform process. This dissertation shows how the lack of consensus is a result of the way Bulgarians experienced the latter years of socialism economically, politically, and socially. The social pact between rulers and ruled remained intact in Bulgaria through the end of communist authoritarianism, and had brought considerable economic, social and cultural development to the country. As a result, the population was not prepared for the inevitable pain of the structural economic and political changes necessitated by the transition to a free market liberal democracy. Focusing on the role of consensus adds a further layer of complexity to the study of transitions, and through the dual case study of Bulgaria and the Rousse region, this study highlights the points of convergence among a range of theoretical approaches, opening the door for greater pooling of knowledge and research findings in future.

  • The Tea Party Movement as a Modern Incarnation of Nativism in the United States and Its Role in American Electoral Politics, 2009-2014

    Author:
    Albert Choi
    Year of Dissertation:
    2014
    Program:
    Political Science
    Advisor:
    Frances Piven
    Abstract:

    The Tea Party movement has been a keyword in American politics since its inception in 2009. Widely regarded as having helped the Republican Party to engineer a comeback during the elections of 2010, the Tea Party movement offered the American public a Republican agenda that was distinguishable from the Bush era by limiting its talking points to issues such as fiscal discipline and budget deficit. However, fact that the image of Republicans changed because of the Tea Party presence and the Republican focus on fiscal issues leaves whether the Republican agenda as influenced by Tea Partiers changed much in substance from the Bush era a very open question. In this regard, I argue in this paper that the Tea Party movement should be seen as a modern incarnation of the recurrent streak of nativism in the United States, whose early forms included the Anti-Masonic movement, the "Know-Nothing" ("American") Party of 1856, and was succeeded by modern political movements such as the second Ku Klux Klan, the John Birch Society, "the religious right" of the late 20th Century and the Tea Party movement. The Tea Party movement's nature as a modern incarnation of nativism would be made clear in a number of traits shown by the movement and its supporters, including their tendency to view themselves as the true "Americans" while viewing the opposition as those conspiring against the United States. This trait, as will be observed, will result in the Tea Party movement possessing a rigid, dogmatic nature that made it incapable of making a compromise. The Tea Party movement would have develop an embittered relationship with the Republican leadership largely due to its unwillingness to compromise even with its own camp. This tension would heighten during the Republican primaries in 2010 and 2012, when Tea Party favorites such as Mike Lee, Joe Miller and Christine O'Donnell defeating the more established Republican figures, and culminate during the primaries of 2013 when business interests funded establishment figure Bradley Byrne over Tea Party favorite Dean Young, and Tea Party-backed Ken Cuccinelli lost the Virginia gubernatorial election to Democrat Terry McAuliffe after having been badly outfunded by McAuliffe throughout the campaign. Conservative business organizations such as the United States Chamber of Commerce heavily contributed to Byrne's campaign, reflecting the business interests' souring relationship with the Tea Party movement. The setbacks in 2013 notwithstanding, Tea Party favorite Dave Brat's upset victory over House Majority leader Eric Cantor led to speculation that the Tea Party movement was, after all, on a comeback trail. In this paper, I specifically argue against such a position given the facts that 1) Brat's victory will likely do little to alter the American public's perception of the Tea Party movement, which has been consistently highly unfavorable, 2) Nor is Brat's victory, which took place in a Republican primary in a solidly conservative district, likely to change the big picture in national or even statewide context, and 3) it is doubtful if Cantor's defeat does much to change the business interests' contribution to the Republican candidates running against a Tea Party candidate in primaries (in any event, Cantor's defeat would make businesses more vigilant in countering Tea Party insurgencies), and 4) the changing demographics in the United States indicates that nativist politics as practiced by the Tea Party movement will have less appeal in the United States as a whole as time progresses. In conclusion, I will argue that the Tea Party movement's nature as a modern incarnation of nativism, while having made it a powerful movement within a short period of time, has made it largely incapable reaching a compromise with not just the opposition but also the Republicans, thereby convincing established figures within the Republican Party that it was more of a liability than an asset for the Republicans as a whole.

  • GRENADA REVOLUTION: FOREIGN POLICY DECISION-MAKING IN A COLD WAR ENVIRONMENT

    Author:
    Cleveland Da Costa
    Year of Dissertation:
    2011
    Program:
    Political Science
    Advisor:
    Irving Markovitz
    Abstract:

    This is a study of how decision - makers in dependent states perceive their environment, and formulate policies and specific decisions to suit. My research focuses on Grenada, one of the smallest states, which experienced a socialist revolution between 1979 and 1983. Foreign policy decisions were made at the time within a very constrained (Cold War) international environment. I propose to analyze the Grenada experience in foreign policy decision-making, focusing primarily on two key variables: the role of perception and the constraints posed by dependence. Dependence is usually viewed as a relation between core and periphery states. I posit that dependence between two `southern' states is also possible. In this context, Grenada, during the period of its revolution, exchanged dependence on the United States for dependence on Cuba. Therefore, among other things, I am interested in determining if, and how Grenada elites were influenced in their decision-making by this type of periphery-periphery dependence. In terms of perception, I am interested in ascertaining how Grenadian decision-makers came to form a negative perception of the United States and positive perceptions of Cuba, and therefore framed their decisions in a particular way.

  • Who Governs the Internet? The Emerging Policies, Institutions, and Governance of Cyberspace

    Author:
    Robert Domanski
    Year of Dissertation:
    2013
    Program:
    Political Science
    Advisor:
    Donna Kirchheimer
    Abstract:

    There remains a widespread perception among both the public and elements of academia that the Internet is "ungovernable". However, this idea, as well as the notion that the Internet has become some type of cyber-libertarian utopia, is wholly inaccurate. Governments may certainly encounter tremendous difficulty in attempting to regulate the Internet, but numerous "architectures of control" have nevertheless become pervasive. So who, then, governs the Internet? Our contentions are that the Internet is, in fact, being governed; that it is being governed by specific and identifiable networks of policy actors; and that an argument can be made as to how it is being governed. This project will develop a new conceptual framework for analysis that deconstructs the Internet into four policy "layers" with the aim of formulating a new political architecture that accurately maps out and depicts authority on the Internet by identifying who has demonstrable policymaking authority that constrains or enables behavior with intentional effects. We will then assess this four-layer model and its resulting map of political architecture by performing a detailed case study of U.S. national cybersecurity policy, post-9/11. Ultimately, we will seek to determine the consequences of these political arrangements and governance policies.

  • The Revolution Will Not be Televised Anymore: New Technology, Political Choice, and Changes in Political Communication from the Newspaper to the Internet

    Author:
    Ben Epstein
    Year of Dissertation:
    2011
    Program:
    Political Science
    Advisor:
    Andrew Polsky
    Abstract:

    The overarching goals of political communication rarely change, yet political communication strategies and activities have evolved a great deal over the course of American history. The changes in political communication have been abrupt, occurring during three periods that I identify as Political Communication Revolutions (PCR). A PCR disrupts long, relatively stable periods that I call Political Communication Orders (PCO). Each of the three successful PCRs in American political history followed similar revolutionary cycles, which suggests that revolutions in political communication take place through a recurring process. I identify this recurring process as the PCR Cycle, which begins when successful new ICTs diffuse rapidly into American homes. It is at this point that political actors must choose if they want to utilize these new tools to innovate their political communication activities. The PCR Cycle can be used to explain repeated patterns in why major political communication change occurs, compare changes occurring throughout history, link ongoing changes during the current revolutionary period, and provide a stable theoretical structure upon which ongoing research on the intersection of the Internet and politics can be rooted. Through historical research of campaign innovation, and original analysis of 2010 senate campaign websites, I find that those political actors with more resources, those who are positioned as political challengers, and those involved in competitive political contests are more likely to innovate earlier than others. The current PCR is unique in that the interactivity of the Internet dramatically expands the number of people able to create as well as consume political information, producing the potential for a decentralizing and democratizing effect on American politics. My study concludes by evaluating the extent to which this decentralization is taking place, primarily through an original web survey of politically active Internet users. I find that the Internet is decentralizing political communication especially in terms of forwarding information and reading and watching political news, but that a very small number of political actors still dominate the generation of new political information. This research should contribute to literature in political communication, the emerging intersection of information technology and politics, and American political development.

  • Ulu Al Amr & Authority: The Central Pillars of Sunni Political Thought

    Author:
    Hisseine Faradj
    Year of Dissertation:
    2014
    Program:
    Political Science
    Advisor:
    Susan Buck-Morss
    Abstract:

    This dissertation evaluates the political history of Islam through the prism of the Sunni conception of authority. It finds an historical red thread that explains the legal and political evolution of different types of Islamic government that have, instead of a European-type sovereign, the Ulu Al Amr (those in authority). In addition, it argues that it is the authority of Ulu Al Amr that legitimizes temporal power via legal rulings such as Wilayah al ahed (allegiance to a dynastic monarchy) and Wlayah al qaher (obedience to coercive power and rule). Those rulings are essential to legitimating historical change. Historical legal opinions among Muslim scholars hold that the members of the Ulu Al Amr are the Ulama--those with knowledge, the learned, religious scholars with temporal power. This dissertation claims that contrary to the legal standards that changed historically in Fiqh al siyash al sharia (the branch Islamic jurisprudence that addresses political issues), it is the Ulama who were the Ulu Al Amr. It is Ulu Al Amr they and only they who decide on the exception through Ijma (consensus or agreement of the community, a source of Islamic law). This view of Ulu Al Amr is most consistent with the Sunni conception of authority that legitimates the force of temporal power. Finally, this dissertation argues that the historical evolution of the concept of authority and the legal role of Ulu Al Amr are an outcome of political struggles and demands between the Ulu Al Amr (qua temporal power) and Muslim subjects rather than a set of legal codes frozen in time and space.

  • European stimuli and domestic responses: administrative reforms in Hungary and Italy during the EU/EMU accession process

    Author:
    Arianna Farinelli
    Year of Dissertation:
    2009
    Program:
    Political Science
    Advisor:
    Susan Woodward
    Abstract:

    The overall success of the European Union (EU) in making Central and Eastern European Countries (CEECs) comply with its conditions for membership has led some scholars and policy makers to consider the EU the principal driver of political reforms in post-socialist countries that have applied for membership. Similarly, the Economic Monetary Union (EMU) is often causally associated with the process of political and economic reforms that took place in Western Europe in the 1990s. Nonetheless, despite the academic enthusiasm and the political rhetoric, the causal impact of the EU on the process of institutional reforms in the Eastern and Western has not been established. Furthermore, empirical evidence suggests that formal institutional change, namely EU-pushed legislated reforms, are not always supported by behavioral change and tend to be either contested or ignored in the implementation phase. These empirical results raise very interesting questions about the process of Europeanization and about the more general question of real, as opposed to formal only, institutional change in a context in which the demand for change is coming from the outside. This thesis aims to answer two such questions: first, how and to what extent has the EU causally influenced domestic institutional change in Hungary and Italy; second, whether institutional change pushed by the EU has been real, that is, resulted in long-lasting changes in the political behavior of domestic actors. This thesis focuses on two aspects of administrative reforms, the depoliticization of the senior civil service and the devolution of politica power from the center to the periphery. In general, the EU has no formal competence over member states' public administrations. However, in its criteria for membership, the EU has required the eastern candidate countries to develop administrative structures necessary for the adoption and implementation of EU laws. Quite differently, in Western Europe, EMU did not explicitly call for the reform of national public administrations. Nonetheless, as the Maastricht convergence criteria focused on fiscal and economic reforms, Italian decision makers considered the reform of national public administrations crucial to reduce government spending and balance the fiscal budget.