Alumni Dissertations and Theses

 
 

Alumni Dissertations and Theses

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  • LEADERS, IDEAS, NATIONAL INTERESTS, AND ECONOMIC STRATEGIES: EXPLAINING THE REGIONAL INTEGRATION DECISIONS OF MEXICO AND BRAZIL

    Author:
    Roberto Genoves
    Year of Dissertation:
    2014
    Program:
    Political Science
    Advisor:
    Kenneth Erickson
    Abstract:

    Regional integration agreements (RIAs) facilitate economic integration by allowing member countries access to each other's markets and by removing or reducing trade and investment barriers. Their increasing influence on international patterns of trade and investment flows has stimulated substantial academic work. Yet, scholars note that we lack an adequate comprehension of the factors that cause governments to seek RIAs, and why they prefer a particular type of integration arrangement. These are important questions because they speak to the forces that shape cooperation among states, a vital issue in international relations with implications for global governance. Using an eclectic analytical approach, this investigation tackles those questions by focusing on the relative role of governmental leaders, ideas, national interests, and economic development strategies. It does so via a comparative study of the foreign policy processes and decisions that led Mexico and Brazil to seek economic integration with neighbors within their respective North and South American regions, which resulted in the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) between Mexico, the United States and Canada, and the Common Market of the South (Mercosur) between Brazil, Argentina, Paraguay and Uruguay. In-depth case studies of Mexico and Brazil are followed by a comparative analysis of similarities and differences in their respective processes and decisions. The main conclusion confirms the importance of powerful decisionmakers within the executive as pivotal political actors whose preferences are critical in determining regional integration outcomes. Leaders choose the economic development strategy that establishes how they want to configure the country's relations with the world economy, which is a major factor influencing regional integration decisions. In turn, the interpretation of core national interests by top decisionmakers is an important variable shaping the choice of development strategy. Finally, leading policymakers' political and economic ideas represent a crucial intervening factor because they provide the lens through which national interests are interpreted, economic strategies are chosen, and specific integration policies are decided upon. The study was conceived as an empirical political investigation. It relies on data collected in Mexico and Brazil via interviews with local analysts and observers and relevant political and economic actors, and through archival research.

  • Why Youth Vote: Identity, Inspirational Leaders, and Independence

    Author:
    Bobbi Gentry
    Year of Dissertation:
    2010
    Program:
    Political Science
    Advisor:
    Charles Tien
    Abstract:

    Abstract WHY YOUTH VOTE by Bobbi Gentry Adviser: Professor Charles Tien This dissertation focuses on the development of political identity rather than treating identity as a given. Identity is a way for us to define who we are. In relation to voting behavior, knowing who we are politically, I argue, increases participation. For youth, finding a political identity is no longer aided by simply adopting party identification, but has many different environmental influences most importantly the role of political leaders in shaping one's identity. Inspirational leaders encourage youth participation in a number of ways. Some youth, they have not yet developed a political identity and default to saying they are Independents. For others, being an Independent is a conscious identity but may not be represented in the political environment of candidate choices. Both cases of being an Independent decrease youth turnout. I examine political identity, inspirational leadership and political independence by looking at the American National Election Study (ANES) data, and conducting my own in-depth interviews.

  • THE POLITICS OF SILENCE: DISCUSSING DELIBERATIVE AND AGONISTIC DEMOCRACY VIS-À-VIS GENDERED RESPONSES TO THE MILITARIZATION OF EVERYDAY LIFE IN TURKEY

    Author:
    Zeynep Goker
    Year of Dissertation:
    2011
    Program:
    Political Science
    Advisor:
    Joan Tronto
    Abstract:

    The dissertation discusses contemporary theories of democracy in the light of the concept of silence. It questions the dichotomous thinking of speech and silence in political theory and challenges the conventional view of silence as the loss of communication. Looking at silence as consent, as refusal or protest, and as disengagement, all of which intersect at various contexts, the dissertation engages in a dialogue with deliberative and agonistic democrats on the meaning and complexity of political action and democratic practice. It analyzes the ways in which silence is framed politically, particularly in women's silent protests of state-inflicted violence in Turkey and around the world. The construction of gendered responses to the militarization of everyday life reveals subaltern women's significant contribution to building a more just society through unconventional acts of democratic engagement. In Western political thought, democratic self-expression has predominantly been associated with the speaking subject. An uncritical association between speech, freedom and democratization risks ignoring the regulative and exclusionary functions of speech and relegates silence to the outside of communication. Two politically relevant and theoretically significant lines of inquiry are developed from this argument. First, it is shown that silence is neither an antithesis of nor an alternative to speech but a useful concept showing the multifaceted workings of power in any political action or democratic opening. Secondly, women's presence in public spaces overturns the traditional association of the feminine with compliance and passivity. The dissertation involves the coupling of this theoretical engagement with an empirical analysis of the Saturday Vigils - silent vigils held by the parents of the disappeared-under-arrest in Turkey since 1995 - and concludes that the vigils open up a serious democratic space in contentious practice and contributes to Turkey's political liberalization. Moreover they set an example to collective action framed in silence that has wider implications for feminist democratic theory and political theory in general.

  • THE POLITICS OF SILENCE: DISCUSSING DELIBERATIVE AND AGONISTIC DEMOCRACY VIS-À-VIS GENDERED RESPONSES TO THE MILITARIZATION OF EVERYDAY LIFE IN TURKEY

    Author:
    Zeynep Goker
    Year of Dissertation:
    2011
    Program:
    Political Science
    Advisor:
    Joan Tronto
    Abstract:

    The dissertation discusses contemporary theories of democracy in the light of the concept of silence. It questions the dichotomous thinking of speech and silence in political theory and challenges the conventional view of silence as the loss of communication. Looking at silence as consent, as refusal or protest, and as disengagement, all of which intersect at various contexts, the dissertation engages in a dialogue with deliberative and agonistic democrats on the meaning and complexity of political action and democratic practice. It analyzes the ways in which silence is framed politically, particularly in women's silent protests of state-inflicted violence in Turkey and around the world. The construction of gendered responses to the militarization of everyday life reveals subaltern women's significant contribution to building a more just society through unconventional acts of democratic engagement. In Western political thought, democratic self-expression has predominantly been associated with the speaking subject. An uncritical association between speech, freedom and democratization risks ignoring the regulative and exclusionary functions of speech and relegates silence to the outside of communication. Two politically relevant and theoretically significant lines of inquiry are developed from this argument. First, it is shown that silence is neither an antithesis of nor an alternative to speech but a useful concept showing the multifaceted workings of power in any political action or democratic opening. Secondly, women's presence in public spaces overturns the traditional association of the feminine with compliance and passivity. The dissertation involves the coupling of this theoretical engagement with an empirical analysis of the Saturday Vigils - silent vigils held by the parents of the disappeared-under-arrest in Turkey since 1995 - and concludes that the vigils open up a serious democratic space in contentious practice and contributes to Turkey's political liberalization. Moreover they set an example to collective action framed in silence that has wider implications for feminist democratic theory and political theory in general.

  • Social Movements and Information and Communication Technologies: The Case of Indigenous Peoples in Ecuador, 2007-2011

    Author:
    Lindsay Green-Barber
    Year of Dissertation:
    2012
    Program:
    Political Science
    Advisor:
    Susan Woodward
    Abstract:

    Over the last three decades Indigenous people in Ecuador have faced government policies threatening their internationally recognized Indigenous human rights. Although a national social movement emerged in Ecuador in 1990, the level of mobilization has since varied. This dissertation project proposes to address the question, under what conditions can the use of new information and communication technologies (ICTs) contribute to successful social mobilization, and when can the use of ICTs hinder mobilization? Through a comparative analysis of 14 indigenous organizations, I find that the extent to which the process of mobilization is successful will vary depending upon three independent variables: first, the level of strategic appropriation of ICTs by Indigenous organizational leaders; second, the level of creative adaptability of movement leaders in using ICTs, especially with regard to interactions with the government; and third, the level of movement leaders' success in distinguishing and targeting their audiences. These three variables are additive, that is, when high levels of all three elements are achieved, mobilization will be most successful and vice versa. However, mobilization will be unsuccessful if organizations fail to creatively adapt to changes in the political arena. This project should contribute to literature in social movements, the emerging literature on the intersection of ICTs and politics, and comparative politics, and has practical implications for the use of ICTs in the developing world.

  • Erosion of German Industrial Relations? Evidence from the Metalworking, Chemicals and Construction Sectors.

    Author:
    Billie Jo Hernandez
    Year of Dissertation:
    2012
    Program:
    Political Science
    Advisor:
    John Bowman
    Abstract:

    Germany is once again the economic powerhouse of Europe and the Eurozone. The German Model of industrial relations with respect to collective bargaining and how firms set wages is called a coordinated market economy. Conventional wisdom holds however that Germany's coordinated market economy is eroding as a result of pressures to decentralize wage setting to firm level, because it is thought that by doing so, firms will be better suited to compete in the globalized economy. In other words, the German Model, specifically the way wages are set in manufacturing may be converging to a liberalized model like we have in the United States. Unlike most studies on German labor relations, this dissertation looks beyond the metalworking sector to include two other industries, chemicals and construction, in order to provide a more fine-grained analysis of the state and trajectory of German industrial relations. The main argument put forth in this dissertation is that decentralization varies across sectors; that decentralized bargaining is not eroding the German model; and that unions and employer associations, as social partners, remain committed to the collective contract.

  • The New Politics of Protecting Humanitarian Space: A Private Security Revolution in Humanitarian Affairs?

    Author:
    Peter Hoffman
    Year of Dissertation:
    2012
    Program:
    Political Science
    Advisor:
    Thomas Weiss
    Abstract:

    Over the past twenty years humanitarian agencies are increasingly encountering security problems in delivering assistance to victims of armed conflict, and consequently they have searched for new security solutions that protect humanitarian space. The usual methods of gaining access to distressed populations and creating a safe area in which aid is provided--invoking obligations under international humanitarian law; adhering to neutrality, impartiality and independence; and, seeking the consent of states that host crises--has frequently failed, thereby pushing agencies to consider of unconventional approaches that deviate from traditions of "humanitarian culture" that crystallized in the late 19th century. One direction these alternative security tactics may pursue is to scale back operations or simply operate more discreetly, such as lowering the profile of humanitarian agencies, relying exclusively on locals to carry out relief work, or even withdrawal. However, other unorthodox approaches seek the use of force to set up and secure humanitarian space. Despite humanitarians' core value of operational independence, acting in conjunction with the armed forces of states or international organizations is one possibility. Humanitarian agencies, however, have also employed private security contractors to achieve humanitarian outcomes. But working with for-profit armed actors raises profound issues of the means and ends of humanitarian action. This study asks, why and how have humanitarian agencies come to view hired guns as morally palatable agents for protecting humanitarian space? It examines how the norm of security contractor usage by humanitarian agencies that arose since the start of the 1990s are the result of the influences of politics (an ideology of a maximalized version of humanitarianism that addresses the root causes of crises and a willingness to work with actors with an avowed political interest), force (conjoining humanitarian operations to military ones and looking to security tools to protect aid work), markets (competition within the humanitarian sector for funding and the incorporation of for-profit actors into humanitarian activities), this study takes up the issue of change to inquire whether the spread and formal acknowledgement of this practice constitutes a "revolution in humanitarian affairs."

  • Conflicting Stories: The Presidency and the Media in Framing Crises

    Author:
    Jennifer Hopper
    Year of Dissertation:
    2011
    Program:
    Political Science
    Advisor:
    Andrew Polsky
    Abstract:

    My dissertation explores the ability of presidents to successfully frame crises for the mass media in three historical periods, prior to, during, and after the development of the modern presidency and mid-20th century changes in the media. Faced with both national security and scandal crises, presidents have utilized their evolving tools and understanding of media coverage to continue to exercise great power in framing crises. The president has consistently framed national security crises successfully by tapping the resources of the modern office to adapt to the daunting new media environment. In a scandal-inspired crisis, the media initially provided a forum that allowed for some presidential framing, then became far more hostile, and finally returns to a more open setting that ensured a president some influence in establishing that a scandal would be seen through his frames. Presidents over time have used framing to sustain their authority in crises, demonstrating that a more adversarial press has not eliminated presidential framing prospects.

  • Fail Better: Towards a Conception of Narrative Totality

    Author:
    Haydar Hosadam
    Year of Dissertation:
    2012
    Program:
    Political Science
    Advisor:
    Marshall Berman
    Abstract:

    Two opposing visions dominate the manifold ways in which totality has been conceived throughout the history: the expressive notion of totality and the generic notion of totality. This thesis argues that these conceptions should be understood as determinate negations of each other. It pays particular attention to the emergence of a narrative concept of totality in the transformation of subjectless, goalless and formless flux of history into a frame depicted by the mediated-expressive totality. It claims that it is this narration that allows the emergence and subjects in history. To make this argument, it juxtaposes two periods of the work of G. Lukács as exemples of these different visions of totality. It further discusses the introduction of the concept of finitude to 20th century political philosophy by Heidegger and evaluates its consequences that establish a framework where the access to the whole is considered to be impossible and the attempt to do so politically dangerous. The discussion of Heidegger is followed by a discussion of Althusser around whose work the impasses of the rejection of a dialectically conceived notion of totality is analyzed. The argument culminates around the work of Badiou which provides the context in which questions that were left with Lukács can be asked again: questions about the political subject: political party: the state: questions about the relation between the standpoint of totality and emancipatory politics.

  • Inventive Politicians and Ethnic Ascent from a Micro Approach: Italian Americans and Mexican Americans in the U.S. Congress

    Author:
    Miriam Jimenez
    Year of Dissertation:
    2010
    Program:
    Political Science
    Advisor:
    Frances Piven
    Abstract:

    This research is about the access of outsiders to mainstream political institutions and it examines the process through which ethnic politicians reach congressional positions. This is a long-term study about ethnic candidates, their electoral experiences, and the political environments that influence their success. Using an original conceptual framework, it focuses on the cases of Italian Americans and Mexican Americans through the 20th century and up to the present time, covering two electoral periods -one centered on parties and the other shaped by national regulations. From this detailed study, a larger conclusion emerges: while some inventive candidates have influenced the political mobilization of their co-ethnics directly, the electoral changes that allow the accommodation and legitimization of an ethnic group as electoral player do not depend solely on the performance of ethnic collectivities. This study challenges traditional conceptions of political incorporation and those approaches that rely on the socioeconomic mobility of groups as a means to explain and understand the political ascent of ethnic minorities. It proposes, instead, a micro approach that synthesizes various elements of political science theories and benefits from the insights of microhistory, a perspective that historians have used for over three decades in the area of cultural analysis. The micro analysis of the political ascent of immigrants applied to this research offers a means to uncover different layers of power and key dimensions of the reality that political actors experienced directly, which makes it then possible to evaluate these politicians' roles, impact, and shortcomings more clearly and precisely. Empirically, this research uncovers the wide repertoire of electoral strategies that ethnic candidates have used throughout one century. It also fills a lacuna in the data of ethnic political incorporation by constructing the first available comparative dataset of elected members of Congress organized upon the basis of national origin. Conceptually, it both challenges and deepens the comprehension of what the process of incorporation of outsiders means and involves.