Alumni Dissertations and Theses

 
 

Alumni Dissertations and Theses

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  • CORRUPTION EVERYWHERE? A CENTRAL EUROPEAN CASE

    Author:
    David Jancsics
    Year of Dissertation:
    2013
    Program:
    Sociology
    Advisor:
    Paul Attewell
    Abstract:

    Both petty and large-scale corruption are widespread in Central Europe. The granting of government contracts is frequently subject to political and monetary influence. Small-scale transactions, from avoiding a traffic ticket to obtaining a license, are sometimes the occasion for bribes. My dissertation examines corruption through several lenses. First, I review a large research literature that spans disciplines from economics to political science, management to anthropology, and I identify the main theoretical positions that scholars have taken towards corruption in its various forms. I discuss the strengths and weaknesses of alternative conceptualizations and suggest areas for theoretical synthesis and development. Second, I present a set of empirical studies that depart from the dominant approach that uses reputational sample surveys of national populations. Instead, I undertook a multi-year interviewing project in Hungary, using a snowball technique to access individuals who had first-hand experiences with petty or larger-scale corrupt transactions. Based on 50 interviews, I provide detailed empirical portraits of several types of corruption, reporting the motives of the parties involved, their social class and other demographic characteristics, and their organizational positions. I recount the voices and opinions of Hungarians at all levels of society about their involvement in these transactions. Some are condemnatory; others provide justifications and rationales for their actions. Third, I develop separate analyses of corruption at the top, in the middle layers, and at the bottom of organizations, drawing out the distinctive purposes and dynamics of corruption in each setting. I also examine the importance of go-betweens or middlemen and the roles they play in some types of corruption, and the emergence of entire corrupt networks in certain contexts.

  • Assembling Autism

    Author:
    Kate Jenkins
    Year of Dissertation:
    2014
    Program:
    Sociology
    Advisor:
    Patricia Clough
    Abstract:

    Autism is a growing social concern because of the epidemic-like growth in diagnoses among children. The lives and experiences of adults who have an autism diagnosis, however, are not as well documented. This dissertation project seeks to resolve that dearth of research. I conducted a year of participant observation at four locations of social, self-advocacy, and peer to peer support groups. I also conducted interviews with leaders and participants. I also participated (as a researcher) in an experiment in social skills acquisition led by participants from my ethnographic field work, fulfilling the planned participatory action research component of my original proposal. I found that many of the problems my participants experienced were both mundane and routine for individuals who are marginalized, but at the same time, made extraordinary by the presence of autism. I found that the affective and sensory components of the disorder were primary in the lives of my participants, though these issues are generally secondary to the social complications that typify the social construction of autism elsewhere. I also found that my participants struggled to control the very meaning of autism, especially as the diagnostic criteria were rewritten. Autism has implications for Western notions of citizenship and subjectivity, as well as identity politics and social movements, namely that capacity for rationality is not necessarily associated with capacity for social interaction or independent living. Autism presents as a spectrum and constellation of impairments and differences, and as such, contests the notion of a unified self.

  • The Global Pigeon: A Comparative Ethnography of Human-Animal Relations in Urban Communities

    Author:
    Colin Jerolmack
    Year of Dissertation:
    2009
    Program:
    Sociology
    Advisor:
    Mitchell Duneier
    Abstract:

    Despite the ubiquitous and socially patterned ways that humans interact with animals, sociologists know remarkably little about how relations with animals shape everyday life. Drawing on interactionist studies of animals, urban communities, and the environment, I follow the pigeon from the sidewalks to the rooftops of New York and beyond to answer two broad questions: 1. how do relationships with animals organize humans' self-conceptions and their social worlds; and 2. what does the place that people make or deny animals in their built environments reveal about how they experience and imagine these spaces? Through a series of qualitative case studies, this multi-sited project explains how pigeons are simultaneously: a medium for inter-ethnic sociability and intra-ethnic solidarity among groups of urban males who breed and fly them in New York and Berlin, respectively; a celebrated cultural attraction in Venice's Piazza San Marco; and an object of scorn and a target of institutional control in London, New York, and other locales. Studying how the pigeon "works" in these diverse ways leads us away from "natural" explanations and toward the sets of social relations and social conditions within which such human-animal relations are embedded. Thus, each case highlights how the ways that people manage relations with animals are structured by context.

  • THE RELATIONSHIP OF RACE AND SOCIAL INTEGRATION ON THE HEALTH STATUS OF OLDER ADULTS IN AN URBAN CITY

    Author:
    Thomas Jordan
    Year of Dissertation:
    2011
    Program:
    Sociology
    Advisor:
    Juan Battle
    Abstract:

    Abstract THE RELATIONSHIP OF RACE AND SOCIAL INTEGRATION ON THE HEALTH STATUS OF OLDER ADULTS IN AN URBAN CITY by Thomas T. Jordan, Ph.D., City University of New York, 2011 , 145 pages; Advisor: Professor Juan Battle Durkheim argues that an individual is more vulnerable to self-destruction the more s/he is detached from the collective. This dissertation will explore the relative impact of social integration on older adults who have transitioned into their new roles in the social structure in relationship to their physical (obesity) and psychological (stress) health status. Additionally, the dissertation examines how social integration varies in its impact from one racial group to another, and how such variations influence the health status of the older adults who are members of these groups. This dissertation employs data from the Brookdale Center for Healthy Aging and Longevity's Health Indicators Project (HIP). It assesses the level of healthcare services obtained by older adults. Participants were interviewed at senior citizen centers throughout the five boroughs of New York City. A total of 1,870 seniors attending a representative sample of 56 senior citizen centers were surveyed. The data was stratified based on borough, race and center size, and used to compare the various responses of those individuals who self-identified as either Black or Hispanic to the responses of those who self-identified as White. It was anticipated that the greater the level of social integration, the greater one's health status. However, the research found that social integration was not a valid predictor of health outcomes for aging adults. Rather, it was proven that healthcare experience and self-efficacy were instrumental in predicting the levels of obesity and stress in aging adults.

  • THE RELATIONSHIP OF RACE AND SOCIAL INTEGRATION ON THE HEALTH STATUS OF OLDER ADULTS IN AN URBAN CITY

    Author:
    Thomas Jordan
    Year of Dissertation:
    2011
    Program:
    Sociology
    Advisor:
    Juan Battle
    Abstract:

    Abstract THE RELATIONSHIP OF RACE AND SOCIAL INTEGRATION ON THE HEALTH STATUS OF OLDER ADULTS IN AN URBAN CITY by Thomas T. Jordan, Ph.D., City University of New York, 2011 , 145 pages; Advisor: Professor Juan Battle Durkheim argues that an individual is more vulnerable to self-destruction the more s/he is detached from the collective. This dissertation will explore the relative impact of social integration on older adults who have transitioned into their new roles in the social structure in relationship to their physical (obesity) and psychological (stress) health status. Additionally, the dissertation examines how social integration varies in its impact from one racial group to another, and how such variations influence the health status of the older adults who are members of these groups. This dissertation employs data from the Brookdale Center for Healthy Aging and Longevity's Health Indicators Project (HIP). It assesses the level of healthcare services obtained by older adults. Participants were interviewed at senior citizen centers throughout the five boroughs of New York City. A total of 1,870 seniors attending a representative sample of 56 senior citizen centers were surveyed. The data was stratified based on borough, race and center size, and used to compare the various responses of those individuals who self-identified as either Black or Hispanic to the responses of those who self-identified as White. It was anticipated that the greater the level of social integration, the greater one's health status. However, the research found that social integration was not a valid predictor of health outcomes for aging adults. Rather, it was proven that healthcare experience and self-efficacy were instrumental in predicting the levels of obesity and stress in aging adults.

  • FROM MIGRANT WORKER TO FAMILY SUPPORT WORKER: A CASE STUDY OF CHANGING PARENTING BELIEFS AND PRACTICES AMONG HISPANIC HOME VISITORS IN IMMOKALEE, FLORIDA

    Author:
    Sonji Keizs
    Year of Dissertation:
    2012
    Program:
    Sociology
    Advisor:
    Barbara Katz Rothman
    Abstract:

    This dissertation studied evolving parenting beliefs and practices among Hispanic women residing in the rural Southwest Florida town of Immokalee, who are currently employed as paraprofessional home visitors in parent education programs targeted towards new immigrants from Latin America. As styles of parenting and the manner in which individuals interact with children under their care are closely linked to class status, parenting beliefs and practices are the central variables examined in this study. This research sought to uncover transformations in participants' parenting belief systems and practices that occurred as they engaged in the work of socializing recent immigrant families to accept and adopt American middle class standards of mothering. The in-depth focus on the intersection of their traditionally held parenting beliefs and practices, with institutionalized expectations and practices found in the occupation of parent education/home visiting, provides novel insights into the dynamic processes of assimilation, acculturation, and identity development unfolding amongst second and third generation Hispanic women in contemporary American society. Qualitative research methods were used in this study including participant observation, content analysis, and in-depth interviews with study participants.

  • Ethnic Affinity as a Strategy of Boundary Making and Immigrant Incorporation: A Case Study in the Bronx.

    Author:
    Ervin Kosta
    Year of Dissertation:
    2012
    Program:
    Sociology
    Advisor:
    Cynthia Epstein
    Abstract:

    This dissertation explores the historical development of the `ethnic affinity' between Albanians and Italians within the Italian food trade in New York City. Relying on fieldwork on Arthur Avenue in the Bronx, it examines the current ethno-racial makeup of the former Italian neighborhood, focusing on two related aspects of change: the influx of incoming Albanian immigrants and the transition from a resident neighborhood to a commodified urban space. Engaging recent efforts towards a unified theory of ethnic boundary formation and transformation, this study looks at the group formation strategies of incoming Albanian immigrants, traces the shifting ethnic boundary between them and Italian ethnics from the late 1960s onwards, and argues that Albanian occupational and cultural incorporation constitutes a new strategy of boundary making and immigrant incorporation. Further, this study examines the role of this boundary work on the transformation of Arthur Avenue from an old immigrant neighborhood to an `authentic' shopping enclave of Italian food. Outlining the changes in the neighborhood institutional setup that culminated in the formation of a business improvement district, as well as the transformation of street feste, it outlines the shifting strategy from a residential to a commercial definition of the neighborhood ethnicity, ensuring the remaking of Belmont as a Little Italy despite the residential succession of Italian ethnics by African Americans and Latino immigrant groups in the blocks surrounding the commercial strip.

  • Peasant Rebellions in the Age of Globalization: The EZLN in Mexico and the PKK in Turkey

    Author:
    Mehmet Kucukozer
    Year of Dissertation:
    2010
    Program:
    Sociology
    Advisor:
    Mauricio Font
    Abstract:

    The formerly corporatist/populist states of Mexico and Turkey have faced significant armed peasant-based insurgencies in their post-1980 period of neoliberal reforms. The Zapatista Army of National Liberation (EZLN) in Chiapas, Mexico and the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) in Turkey's southeast serve as ideal case studies in order to deal with long unresolved questions in the literature on peasant rebellions: What is the role of greater capitalist penetration in the growth of these movements? Which peasants are the ones joining these movements? What role do political and militant organizations play in the process of mobilization? Although the literature suggests that there is a correlation between peripheral states/regions and revolutionary movements, this project seeks to make those links more explicit by taking a process-oriented approach to how regions become peripheral and how revolutionary movements emerge. In doing so, I argue that Mexico and Turkey, with respect to the regions in focus, evince a distinct pattern of state building in comparison to European models. The exercise of state power in Chiapas and Turkish Kurdistan has taken on institutionalized patterns. These patterns serve as a backdrop for understanding the ways different kinds of villages have been affected by state power. A basic typology of villages was established in terms of their relationship to the commercial economy, its social structure, and nature of social life. Stories of people who participated in, supported, or witnessed both insurgencies were collected. A small database of PKK insurgents was also created. Together the data indicate that capitalist expansion did not play a primary or direct role in the formation of these insurgencies. Rather, villages where commercial agriculture had not come to dominate were the ones who participated. Such villages also had greater social-class diversity, contributing participants who were mobilized in varied ways. They responded to increasing land tensions, to greater repression from the state and its local allies, and to greater involvement in national politics in the form of leftist organizations building networks in local sites. The EZLN and the PKK were effective at linking themselves to these pre-existing networks. In doing so they built an elaborate organizational capacity.

  • HOW DO DOMESTIC VIOLENCE COURTS WORK? A TEST OF THE IMPACT OF COURT POLICIES ON RECIDIVISM

    Author:
    Melissa Labriola
    Year of Dissertation:
    2013
    Program:
    Sociology
    Advisor:
    Mary Clare Lennon
    Abstract:

    Domestic violence courts typically handle a jurisdiction's domestic violence cases on a separate calendar, presided over by a specially assigned and trained. They arose in response to a number of legal and social developments, in particular, as part of a broader trend towards "problem-solving justice". Problem-solving justice can trace its theoretical roots to innovations in policing, which attempted to replace traditional law enforcement's focus on responding to individual offenses with a focus on addressing patterns of crime and community engagement. Under the rubric of therapeutic jurisprudence, problem-solving courts emerged in the 1990s. This model posits that legal rules and procedures can be used to improve psychosocial outcomes. However, therapeutic jurisprudence is not the only theoretical foundation for problem solving courts. Deterrence theory posits that receipt or threat of a punishment for an infraction will reduce the likelihood that the infraction will be repeated. Using the theoretical lenses of therapeutic jurisprudence and deterrence, I conceptualize the key elements of those theories and test whether policies and procedures adopted by these courts are associated with better outcomes than others. Given the unprecedented number of sites, coupled with the application of sophisticated multi-level modeling techniques, this dissertation asks the fundamental question of how domestic violence courts work. The findings indicate that recidivism reductions are enhanced under some conditions. Substantially advancing the state our knowledge, these analyses point to a greater focus on therapeutic jurisprudence mechanisms, as primary candidates for policy factors that may lead some make domestic violence courts to reduce recidivism more than others. In turn, there are a number of therapeutic jurisprudence and deterrence policies that lead domestic violence courts to increase recidivism as well. This indicates the effectiveness of policies that focus on shared communication, training of outside stakeholders, and accountability mechanisms that are designed and implemented to increase re-arrest when there are reports of assault. The results seem to point to a theoretical model that needs to be tested more to find policies that can be most beneficial to domestic violence offenders and victims of these crimes.

  • ROUNDUP READY NATION: THE POLITICAL ECOLOGY OF GENETICALLY MODIFIED SOY IN ARGENTINA

    Author:
    Amalia Leguizamon
    Year of Dissertation:
    2014
    Program:
    Sociology
    Advisor:
    Kenneth Gould
    Abstract:

    This dissertation is a case study of agrarian transformation in an agro-export society, Argentina. I study the process of adoption of the technological package of genetically modified (GM) soy in the Argentine countryside, its socio-ecological consequences, and Argentines' responses to it. In particular, this research addresses Argentina's unique situation of being a developing country that has positively embraced the biotechnology of GM seeds as a key accumulation strategy without the emergence of major contestation against GM soy monocropping. In order to answer the puzzle of quiescence, I look at how power relations structure access to social and environmental goods and bads, as well as at how power relates to the causes of consensus and conflict. From a critical political economy perspective, in this work I contribute to three major areas of substantive research: (1) Technology and socio-environmental change; (2) Natural resource extraction as a model of neoliberal socioeconomic development for Latin America; and (3) Social movements, in particular rural and environmental movements in the Latin American region. It terms of data collection, I rely on a multi-method approach based on archival research, quantitative analysis, and ethnographic methods (interviewing and participant observation). Whether GM crops can alleviate poverty and address food security while conserving ecosystems remains one of the most divisive questions in contemporary development studies. This dissertation is thus a necessary and timely contribution to debates on agricultural GM biotechnology. More broadly, the aim of this research is to contribute to discussions around the dynamics of agrarian and rural transformations, technological adoption and resistance, and the relationship between ecological modification and social change.