Alumni Dissertations

 

Alumni Dissertations

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  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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."