Alumni Dissertations and Theses

 
 

Alumni Dissertations and Theses

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  • Origins of the Movement and the Development of Protest: The Birmingham Campaign, 1963

    Author:
    James Munro
    Year of Dissertation:
    2014
    Program:
    Political Science
    Advisor:
    Frances Piven
    Abstract:

    Social movement theory in the late twentieth century has offered competing explanations for the origins and development of protest. In an attempt to explain the American Civil Rights Movement, scholars from the resource mobilization (RM) and political process theory (PPT) schools have provided somewhat mechanistic and formulaic explanations for how the black protest developed in the southern states. This study takes the emergence and development of protest in Birmingham, Alabama, culminating in the Birmingham Campaign of 1963, as a case study to examine the claims of RM and PPT. An evaluation of the Birmingham Campaign suggests the emergence of protest is less dependent on the receipt of outside resources than RM and PPT suggest. Similarly, the Birmingham Campaign shows us that the development of protest proceeds in a far more unpredictable and spontaneous manner than either theory would lead us to believe.

  • A PARADOX OF PEACEBUILDING AID: INSTITUTIONALIZED EXCLUSION AND VIOLENCE IN POST-CONFLICT STATES

    Author:
    Sumie Nakaya
    Year of Dissertation:
    2009
    Program:
    Political Science
    Advisor:
    Susan Woodward
    Abstract:

    Exclusion and violence persist in post-conflict states, despite external assistance to the demilitarization of politics, which the literature emphasizes as the primary goal of aid. Through a field-based study of Tajikistan and a survey of an additional three cases (Cambodia, Guatemala, and Sierra Leone), this dissertation finds that aid focuses on economic liberalization in the initial stage of post-war transition. Such an organization of aid empowers a particular group of elites who have privileged access to state assets at the time of civil war settlement, and establishes institutional frameworks that will consolidate the economic control of the incumbent regime elites. As the incumbent regime elites seek to remove wartime commanders and opposition leaders from the state apparatus, thereby nullifying power-sharing and other provisions of peace agreements, violence tends to be instigated by increasingly repressive governments or those facing exclusion from sources of livelihood. Aid thus institutionalizes exclusion and sustains patterns of violence along civil war divisions, rather than transforming existing political and economic structures.

  • NOT BY ACCIDENT: HOW EGYPTIAN CIVIL SOCIETY SUCCESSFULLY LAUNCHED A REVOLUTION

    Author:
    Helen-Margaret Nasser
    Year of Dissertation:
    2014
    Program:
    Political Science
    Advisor:
    Susan Woodward
    Abstract:

    This thesis examines the role of civil society in Egypt and argues that it was central to the success of the 2011 revolution that ended in the ouster of President Hosni Mubarak. I will discuss the development of civil society under Mubarak and demonstrate its strength. In understanding civil society in Egypt, this thesis will discuss the strengths of groups such as associations, Islamist movements, women's groups, labor activism, and youth movements. I also demonstrate that it is important to understand the precedents established that shaped the state's stance towards civil society. As such, this thesis will also discuss the authoritarian norms of former presidents Nasser and Sadat and an examination of Mubarak's own tools of domination aimed to limit the agitations of a strong civil society. Given this understanding, I will explain the events of 2011 as well as the aftermath and prospects for democracy in Egypt, carefully explaining the role Egypt's civil society will continue to play as the country develops a new political strategy.

  • The Politics of Transportation Megaprojects

    Author:
    Patrizia Nobbe
    Year of Dissertation:
    2014
    Program:
    Political Science
    Advisor:
    Christa Altenstetter
    Abstract:

    Large infrastructure investment decisions, especially for mega-projects defined as costing more than one billion U.S. dollars, are largely based on complex, unclear and non-transparent decision criteria. The project's specific context and a variety of actors and interests add to the complexity of the decision processes. All projects deviate, to a certain degree from a "rational" decision-making process, are politically motivated and subject to multiple interests. Cost-benefit analyses are conducted for about half of the projects. In this work I hypothesize that the politics of project decision-making is comparable across countries, relative to their nature, form of involvement and impact on decision-making. This dissertation develops a theoretical framework to assess the politics of transportation megaprojects internationally, and then tests it by integrating quantitative and qualitative research methods. I apply the framework to a comparative database composed of transportation megaprojects worldwide as well as to two US based case studies. Using this framework the research yields the following main findings: 1. Any infrastructure investment project is a product of its time. 2. Transportation investment decisions most frequently are about funding. 3. The dwindling role of national governments across the globe in favor of local decision-making shifts project and funding decisions to the local level. 4. Creating broad pro-project coalitions is crucial. Each transportation megaproject is composed of different sets of support and opposition groups. Agency fragmentation and privatization trends further contribute to more complicated decision and funding schemes. 5. National governments disproportionately fund projects that have cost overruns and long implementation times. 6. The nature of transportation agencies matters. Depending on the type (line agencies, special purpose agencies, or single purpose agencies) transportation agencies either contain the inbuilt conflicts of their creators, or they already embody consent for a project. This yields strong impacts on project decision and implementation processes. On the other hand, transportation agencies may act as a potential shield from politics, with the ability to hold and maintain items on a long-term agenda. 7. Generally, national level and grant-funded projects face weaker opposition. Further, opposition and cost overrun are associated.

  • Being All She Can Be: Gender Integration in NATO Military Forces

    Author:
    Lana Obradovic
    Year of Dissertation:
    2010
    Program:
    Political Science
    Advisor:
    Irving Markovitz
    Abstract:

    For centuries national military forces excluded women from their ranks. However, in the last four decades numerous states have passed legislation permanently integrating women into their military services and have dramatically increased their numbers and their role. By examining twenty-four NATO member states, this study will attempt to build the theoretical model that explains why states abandon their policies of exclusion and seek to integrate more women into their military services. It combines both large-N quantitative analysis and case studies of the United States, Italy, Hungary and Poland. The main argument put forth in this dissertation is that civilian policymakers and military leadership no longer surrender to parochial gendered division of the roles, but rather integrate women to meet the recruitment numbers due to military modernization, professionalization and levels of threat to national security; to meet the demands of domestic women's movements and to meet state's responsibilities under international agreements regarding gender equity and gender mainstreaming in the military.

  • REGIONAL PARTY SYSTEMS IN ETHNOFEDERAL STATES

    Author:
    Yekaterina Oziashvili
    Year of Dissertation:
    2012
    Program:
    Political Science
    Advisor:
    Susan Woodward
    Abstract:

    Scholars of federalism and political parties argue that ethnic federalism leads to the creation of regional and ethnoregional parties at the expense of national parties. Critics of ethnofederalism claim that a regional party system dominated by branches of national parties in ethnofederal states is virtually impossible and argue that ethnoregional parties act as centrifugal forces that threaten the territorial integrity of the state. Using the case of Russia this dissertation shows that the rise of regional parties is not a direct result of ethnofederal institutional structures but a product of specific electoral systems. Then, using the cases of Bosnia and Herzegovina, Ethiopia, and Nigeria, I demonstrate the central role of electoral rules and institutions in shaping party systems in ethnofederal states. Next, I look at the sources of variation in regional party systems in ethnofederal democracies. I demonstrate that the ethno-demographic compositions of the federal units provide the best explanation for this variation. Using the cases of India, Pakistan (1988-1999), Spain, Canada, and Belgium I show that the ethnoculturally and politically dominant communities are more likely to provide electoral support for national parties, regardless of their region of residence. For example, I find that Hindus, despite their linguistic, regional, and tribal heterogeneity, are more likely to support national parties than other ethnic communities in India. Similarly, I find that Anglophones in Canada and Castilian-speakers in Spain provide the most consistent support for national parties. Belgium and Pakistan, on the other hand, lack an ethnoculturally and politically dominant community; as a result, Belgium has no national parties and Pakistan's national parties in the 1990s were perceived as increasingly ethnoregional, drawing most of their support from Sindh and Punjab regions. My findings, therefore, are twofold: they demonstrate that the formation of regional parties is not solely a product of ethnofederal institutional design and that electoral strength of regional parties is not a common characteristic of all ethnofederal states. Their presence depends on electoral institutions and on the ethno-demographic composition of the federal unit in question.

  • THE "SOCIAL FACTORY" IN POSTWAR ITALIAN RADICAL THOUGHT FROM OPERAISMO TO AUTONOMIA

    Author:
    David Palazzo
    Year of Dissertation:
    2014
    Program:
    Political Science
    Advisor:
    Jack Jacobs
    Abstract:

    This dissertation examines the "social factory" as it developed conceptually within postwar Italian Autonomist Marxism. This concept is defined historically as an outgrowth of the critique of political economy that accompanied a rethinking of Marxism in postwar Italian working class political thought through the experience of Quaderni Rossi, which culminated in the theoretical and practical work of Potere Operaio, with fragments in the area of Autonomia. Historically, this dissertation locates the "social factory" as derivative of two figures: Raniero Panzieri and Mario Tronti, as well as two subsidiary movements that were articulated, separately, by Antonio Negri and Mariarosa Dalla Costa. Conceptually, the "social factory" is understood in two differing modes: as the result of capitalist accumulation and, the other, as the consequence of the increasing tertiarization of economic life. Both are problematic and unresolved within Italian workerist thought; Negri and Dalla Costa contribute to the discussion of a "social factory" critique of political economy in terms of extending the conceptualization of class and the understanding of social relations within advanced, post-Fordist capitalism. The idea of the "social factory" is understood historically to signify the relationship between capital and class, to understand the role of capital as an element of command within a particular, historical mode of production. In this regard, the development of operaismo is delineated in terms of the critique of political economy and its secondary concept: class composition. The history of a rather rich and varied political orientation constitutes the substantive matter of this work, with the conceptual apparatus forming the definitive characteristics of a distinct political movement: operaismo. In short, the "social factory" is explained historically through its articulation in Quaderni Rossi, Classe Operaio, the student movement, the "hot autumn," Potere Operaio, and Autonomia. Between the early-1960s and the mid 1970s Italy was the country of class conflict. This dissertation tells a story of that historical moment as understood through the development of its main concept, the "social factory," as a critique of political economy.

  • MORAL INSCRIPTIONS: POLITICS AND THE RHETORIC OF RESPONSIBILITY

    Author:
    Steven Pludwin
    Year of Dissertation:
    2014
    Program:
    Political Science
    Advisor:
    Alyson Cole
    Abstract:

    This dissertation advances two interrelated claims. First, I examine the concept of responsibility and show how it operates as a rhetorical form that mediates a large segment of political life. Framing responsibility as a distinctly political problem, I argue that it functions to produce, discipline and govern subjects as well as legislate forms of identity, difference and community. Second, I argue that the definitional space of responsibility is not sacred, but contested. It is within this contested space that political battles regarding how we ought to understand the world and what it means to live in common with others plays out. Focusing on the ways in which responsibility is used to impose order allows me to understand how a politics of responsibility impacts discussions as far ranging as political violence, economic crisis and environmental policy.

  • The Caring Precariat: Home Health Care Work in New York City

    Author:
    Diana Polson
    Year of Dissertation:
    2013
    Program:
    Political Science
    Advisor:
    John Mollenkopf
    Abstract:

    Home health care sits at the nexus of several recent coinciding processes--the fraying of the welfare state, privatization and the externalization of social reproductive costs onto individual families. This dissertation examines the ways in which government funding and public policies structure service delivery and working conditions in the home health care industry in the nation's most populous city--New York City. This study augments in-depth interviews of policy elites, government bureaucrats, employers, advocates and unions with analysis of a new data set collected from hard-to-reach low-wage workers to explore the role of the federal, state and city government in creating and regulating contract arrangements that determine wages and working conditions of a low-wage workforce situated between the formal and informal economy. Several themes emerge from this research. First, by examining the relationship between the formal, regulated, publicly-funded home health care system and the informal, gray market privately-funded home care system in NYC, I found that the state relies on the informal care economy (and therefore workers working outside of the regulated, formal system) to fill in the care gap created by piecemeal public coverage. Shifts in government regulation, funding and constellations of third party government move the boundaries between formal and informal jobs--in this case, growing informal work and putting more financial burdens on families. Second, this dissertation explores how a union, namely SEIU 1199, that had previously been unable to raise wages significantly for home health aides, was able to win, remarkably, a living wage by creating and then taking advantage of opportunities to revamp the home health care industry during a period when the State was looking to cut Medicaid. Third, the State, with the help of 1199, facilitated a reorganization of the home health care industry, which led to its consolidation and the growth of Managed Care (which many fear will lead to a decrease in hours of care for patients and less work for aides).

  • Engaging Bad Governments: Resource Groups and Patterns of Engagement in Bangladesh

    Author:
    Nayma Qayum
    Year of Dissertation:
    2014
    Program:
    Political Science
    Advisor:
    Vincent Boudreau
    Abstract:

    Bangladesh's governments have pursued an aid-based neoliberal development agenda since the 1980s, which has allowed new resources and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) to permeate rural society. These NGOs operate programs through resource groups, small groups of impoverished women who gather at the village or ward levels. This dissertation argues that resource groups have built new citizen-state relationships and enabled new forms of engagement between citizens and their governments. These new transactional relationships are governed simultaneously by informal institutions of accountability and informal institutions of exchange; the former allow actors to reinforce formal rules when badly-performing institutions deviate from them, and the latter permit actors to navigate weak formal institutions through illegal exchanges. Findings illustrate that transactional relationships are replacing patronage relationships with a combination of transaction-driven and programmatic linkages, and allowing poor women to engage with formal institutions in multiple ways - in partisan politics, local government, and informal avenues - that coexist with ongoing urban resistance politics.