Alumni Dissertations and Theses

 
 

Alumni Dissertations and Theses

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  • 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.

  • Enter Neoliberalism: Transformation of the Finnish Welfare State, 1991-2007

    Author:
    Merja Jutila
    Year of Dissertation:
    2010
    Program:
    Political Science
    Advisor:
    Irving Leonard Markovitz
    Abstract:

    This dissertation examines the process of welfare state change in Finland from the end of the 1980s to the present with the purpose of finding out why and how the Finnish welfare state transformed from an egalitarian welfare state to "a competitiveness society." The key findings are that the economic crisis of the early 1990s, combined with the collapse of the Soviet Union, was a shock that enabled a new worldview to gain a foothold in the center of Finnish political decision-making. The neoliberal ideology, that had already gained ground elsewhere in the world through the efforts of international organizations such as the OECD, became the framework for restructuring the Finnish welfare state. While those advocating neoliberal politics had a ready plan, support from the political left for the public sector austerity program was paramount. The Social Democrats, traditionally the strongest advocates of the welfare state, astonished by the magnitude of the problems created were quick to decide their politics had come to the end of their road. In charge of the country, and driven by crisis consciousness they started practicing the only politics that seemed credible at the time -- essentially starting to practice their opponents' politics. Eventually, the centralized political decision-making structure and the tendency toward consensus politics in a small country help to explain why the new ideas were able to gain ground so efficiently among the country's political decision-makers.

  • THE STRUCTURE OF TRANSNATIONAL SECURITY NETWORKS

    Author:
    Annelies Kamran
    Year of Dissertation:
    2012
    Program:
    Political Science
    Advisor:
    Thomas Weiss
    Abstract:

    This dissertation maps transnational cooperation to provide security to global governance problems. It begins by outlining the context of contemporary globalization: the drivers of global security governance. It examines how the global governance of both human and traditional security has been affected by the neoliberal economics of the "Washington Consensus." There are clear markers of this transformative, de-institutionalizing change, including the privatization of the provision of security and the public assumption of risk, creating an "historical bloc." This has implications for theory building as well as policy making—security is no longer a matter only for states but a subject of global governance, requiring the cooperation of many actors. It then proposes a new way define security along four axes: source of threat, target, speed, and impact. It reviews the evolution of the concept of networks in the field of political science in general and international relations in particular, from the analysis of simple balance-of-power systems toward more complex adaptive systems, and examines the arguments in support and against the use of quantitative network analysis for the study of international relations. The ontology and epistemology of using this approach to global governance are defined, as the definitions and conceptions of what is to be studied are affected by the choice of a formal mathematical approach. The relations to be studied are compulsory and institutional power, which together allow conclusions to be drawn about structural power. These are tested on hypotheses on hierarchy and nonobvious relationships. The first case study maps the construction of a traditional security transnational cooperative response network, using the response to nuclear proliferation since the end of the Cold War. The second case study uses the methods of social network analysis to discover the structural patterns of cooperation that arose in global response to a human security problem, the Indian Ocean tsunami. Finally, the dissertation compares the results of the different case studies by hypothesis, by measure, and by network in order to extract from them the different strategies that actors within networks use, and strategies that can be applied to or used by the networks themselves.

  • Right Without Might: Prophecy and Enervation in the American Political Tradition

    Author:
    Jonathan Keller
    Year of Dissertation:
    2014
    Program:
    Political Science
    Advisor:
    Corey Robin
    Abstract:

    This dissertation examines the ways Old Testament prophecy has influenced American political thought and rhetoric. Although political scientists have long recognized the impact of the Scriptures on the ways Americans express and think about themselves, they have misunderstood this important part of America's political tradition. I study political sermons by leading Protestant ministers in three historical eras, to demonstrate three claims. First, American prophecy is not a singular but a multiple tradition, consisting of three Old Testament rhetorics. Second, only one of these rhetorics encourages political action while the other two urge political quietism. Third, all three rhetorics thrived until the middle of the twentieth century, when they converged into one type, the activating kind known as the jeremiad. My study recasts our understanding of Biblical rhetoric in the United States, by demonstrating that, while it is often fiercely critical of the status quo, it has encouraged political quietism during significant periods of American history.

  • ACCESS TO HEALTHCARE FOR VULNERABLE ASIAN SUBGROUP POPULATIONS IN THE UNITED STATES

    Author:
    Deborah Kim-Lu
    Year of Dissertation:
    2014
    Program:
    Political Science
    Advisor:
    Christa Altenstetter
    Abstract:

    Objectives: This dissertation examines the barriers for access to healthcare for the top four most uninsured Asian American subgroups (Bangladeshi, Cambodian, Korean, and Pakistani communities). Methods: Combining quantitative and qualitative approaches, this study consisted of: (1) an in-depth review of the Health Services Research literature; (2) qualitative interviews with 24 national health experts and advocates on Asian American health; (3) a survey of a non-probability sample of 107 Koreans in the tri-state region (Connecticut, New Jersey, and New York) using the Access to Healthcare Survey for Koreans in the U.S. instrument, which includes a Likert scale with 21 barrier questions and 40 questions capturing demographic, healthcare, health status, beliefs, and civic engagement indicators; and (4) a comparative approach, which draws lessons from other countries facing similar access to healthcare issues, as described in the Comparative Health Policy literature. Results: 57% of the Korean sample is self-employed, with 40% having no health insurance at all and 42% having no regular source of care. 67% achieved a Bachelor's degree or above but bivariate analyses show that those who completed their education outside of the U.S. have significantly lower levels of access to healthcare (53%). 63% had resided in the U.S. for more than 20 years and 44% do not speak English well or not at all. Conclusions: Structural barriers, such as cost and employment/occupation types, have a significant impact on access to healthcare. Asian American subgroups' increased propensity to be self-employed or be employed in the ethnic economy cannot be explained as a cultural phenomenon but should be understood as a pragmatic approach to integrating into the U.S. labor market. Due to their high limited English proficiency levels, Asian immigrants face challenges finding employment commensurate with their previous education and job experience. Despite the expected impact of the Affordable Care Act in reducing uninsured rates, future efforts to remedy the barriers to access to healthcare for these Asian American subgroups will require a multifaceted approach that moves towards integrating vulnerable populations, such as immigrants, into the mainstream healthcare system and establishes targeted interventions such as language assistance and comprehensive case management services.