Alumni Dissertations

 

Alumni Dissertations

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  • 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.

  • 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.

  • RULING IN PLACE: GEOGRAPHY, LEGITIMACY, AND REGIME SURVIVAL IN SINGAPORE AND TAIWAN

    Author:
    Anoulak Kittikhoun
    Year of Dissertation:
    2011
    Program:
    Political Science
    Advisor:
    Yan Sun
    Abstract:

    This study explores the phenomenon of authoritarian regime durability and change in two advanced industrialized countries of East Asia - Singapore and Taiwan. Why has the regime in Singapore been able to survive while the one in Taiwan ended two decades ago? Does authoritarian rule mainly depend on coercion and/or material rewards? Are there alternative sources of regime legitimacy and stability? How does a country's political geography influence the way in which a regime maintains power? This work argues that a viable source of authoritarian regime legitimacy is the country's geo-idea, which derives from the place's physical characteristics, historical legacies, and the spatial identity of its people. Singapore's small size, strategic location, lack of resources and historical experiences of international and regional influences have engendered a geo-idea of a small vulnerable ethnically different place situated within a hostile region. Consequently, the ruling People's Action Party legitimized and prescribed restrictive pre-political rules, arguing that any overt politicking based on race and/or religion would heighten past animosities and lingering tensions, and destroy the barely surviving state. Taiwan's small size and location near China and history of external powers' colonialisms and Chinese intermittent rule have given rise to at least two competing geo-ideas. Claiming that Taiwan was an integral part of China in which it still represented and would eventually return, the ruling Kuomintang enacted martial law to halt national elections and ban political challenges. Arguing that the island possessed a geo-identity separate from China, the opposition constantly challenged the KMT's idea and finally capitalized on the international de-recognition of the KMT's claims to push for democratic reform and an end to authoritarian rule. The study highlights the importance of a state's geography not only in its defense or geopolitics, but also in national policies, including identity construction and political domination. In legitimizing their rule, regimes can draw on its spatial surroundings and characteristics, the sort of history it has experienced, and the perception and fears of its people. The relative acceptance of the regime's claims validates its political order, and vice versa.

  • Conservatives Against Capitalism: The Conservative Critique of Capitalism in American Political Thought

    Author:
    Peter Kolozi
    Year of Dissertation:
    2011
    Program:
    Political Science
    Advisor:
    Corey Robin
    Abstract:

    It is commonly assumed that American conservatives, past and present, unreservedly support free-market capitalism. This dissertation, an intellectual history of conservative anti-capitalist thought in America, will challenge this assumption. It traces the historical development of a tradition in the American conservative discourse focused on the tension between conservatism and capitalism. This conservative tradition is characterized by opposition, critique and ultimately, accommodation with capitalism. While this critical tradition is no longer as central to the conservative discourse as it once had been, it illustrates how conservatives have attempted to reconcile conservative values, institutions, and tradition with the dynamism of capitalism.

  • When Humanitarianism Dictates Disarmament Policy: Controversy over the Definition of Antipersonnel Landmines under the 1997 Antipersonnel Landmine Ban

    Author:
    Naoko Kumagai
    Year of Dissertation:
    2009
    Program:
    Political Science
    Advisor:
    Susan Woodward
    Abstract:

    This research seeks to examine the discursive influence of humanitarian advocacy groups on a government's decision about the balance between military necessity and civilian protection, with the case of the dispute over the definition of anti-personnel (AP) mines under the 1997 AP Mine Ban Treaty. Between the two main disputed definitions, humanitarian advocacy groups have advocated the effect-oriented definition over the design-oriented definition since the former covers and prohibits anti-vehicle (AV) mines with potential AP effects. Based on the recognition of the state's reluctance to accept any external interference in armament policy and the two potential defects of humanitarian advocacy groups, insufficient access to the decision-making process and insufficient availability of military and technological information on weapons, I posit that the humanitarian advocacy discourse, which highlights the cruel impact of such mines on civilians, is more effective than the technological advocacy discourse, which disputes governments' theoretical argument for the functional reliability of controversial AV mines. First, the quantitative study on the twenty-six developed states with liberal democracy as of 2002 demonstrates the strong impact of the military stake in AV mines on government definition of AP mines. Second, a qualitative comparative study of two governments from each definition group, Austria and Canada from the effect-oriented definition and Germany and France from the design-oriented definition, during the period from 1998 through 2002, confirms the weak influence of technological advocacy discourse. Lastly, the qualitative text analysis of two governments with the design-oriented definition of AP mines, France and Germany, during the period of 2003 through 2005, demonstrates the positive correlation between the humanitarian discourse and a government's adoption of the effect-oriented definition of AP mines. Still, the rationalist alternative explanations based on the German government's technological capacity to produce more advanced AV mines leave the extent of effectiveness of humanitarian discourse unconfirmed. A new finding from the successful case of Germany, the importance of the utilization of international norms as a factor to make the humanitarian discourse more effective, suggests further research on the detailed conditions and mechanism for successful humanitarian advocacy discourse.

  • `Bootstraps' or `Helping Hand:' An Exploration of the Relationship between Economic Stratification among Black Americans and Their Racial Attitudes toward Merit-Based Opportunities and Affirmative Action

    Author:
    Sherman Lee Jr
    Year of Dissertation:
    2013
    Program:
    Political Science
    Advisor:
    Joe Rollins
    Abstract:

    Over the last thirty years, much has been written about the increasing disparity between Black Americans who have achieved upward mobility and those at the lower end of the economic spectrum. This dissertation utilizes the General Social Survey (GSS) to contribute to this dialogue on stratification within the Black American community. More specifically, it asks the questions: from 1994-2006 - during the Bill Clinton and George W. Bush administrations - how did socioeconomic status affect Blacks' racial attitudes about themselves? To answer this question, the racial attitudes of a sample of Black Americans of low socioeconomic status will be compared to the racial attitudes of their higher socioeconomic status counterparts across several demographic, attitudinal, and economic variables. The theoretic framework for this investigation includes stratification theory (Weber), group interest theory (Dawson, Shelton & Wilson), and the theory of opportunities and group consciousness (Chong & Kim).