Alumni Dissertations

 

Alumni Dissertations

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  • 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. 

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.