Alumni Dissertations

 

Alumni Dissertations

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  • Albert Camus' political thought: from passion to compassion

    Author:
    Angel López
    Year of Dissertation:
    2014
    Program:
    Political Science
    Advisor:
    Marshal Berman
    Abstract:

    The present work analyzes the political thought of Albert Camus, specifically the challenges of the justice ideal, and Camus' prioritization of the concepts of limits and compassion. Although Camus is not usually considered part of the traditional canon of political philosophy, I organized his thought into three major areas: a sub-theory of the human being, a sub-theory of institutions, and a sub-theory of political change. This method, I demonstrate, is ideal for extracting and organizing the political ideas of non-traditional political writers. In the case of Camus, he advocates for an international and democratic `civilization of dialogue' as part of his sub-theory of institutions, a preference for limited revolt over unpredictable and violent revolution as part of his sub-theory of political change, and, given what he called the `solidarity of man in error and aberration', a marked preference for compassion over justice in times of political crises as his sub-theory of the human being.

  • Dollar Democracy: The Politics of Dollarization in Latin America

    Author:
    Cori Madrid
    Year of Dissertation:
    2014
    Program:
    Political Science
    Advisor:
    Irving Markovitz
    Abstract:

    The state's right to print money and control monetary policy is among its most powerful abilities: it allows the state to manage the economy, raise revenue, and reward political allies. Since the establishment of the Westphalian state system, the state's monopoly of money within its borders has been a source of wealth and within the last century, influence over the macroeconomy and local actors. Nevertheless, in the year 2000, Ecuador and El Salvador surprised the world by announcing that they would officially dollarize their economies, replacing their national currencies with the dollar. What can explain why countries, such as Ecuador and El Salvador, would voluntarily subjugate themselves completely to another country's monetary regime? Given its dramatic impact on the power of the state, why would any independent country choose to dollarize? Up until now, scholarly attempts to explain dollarization have focused on its theoretical economic "advantages" and "disadvantages": its impact on lowering interest rates, greater access to credit, the economic benefits of currency stability versus reductions in seigniorage and the loss of monetary sovereignty. In the case of Ecuador, economists and political scientists, alike, agreed that dollarization was the only option available: it was a sheer act of desperation divorced from social or political considerations other than the desperate need for quick stability. However, these answers fall flat, as they ignore 1) the relationship between local struggles over dollarization and financial globalization, 2) the differential ways in which dollarization impacts various societal groups, creating winners and losers with strong interests in influencing policy adoption, and 3) the ways in which internal political struggles and coalitional alliances impact the outcome of these struggles. Differing monetary regimes create concentrated groups of winners and losers and where there are winners and losers, actors will work to impose their preferred policies. Through detailed case studies of two countries where a campaign for dollarization was successful (Ecuador and El Salvador) and one case study of a country where dollarization was defeated (Argentina), this dissertation shows that struggles over dollarization reflect sectorial distributional struggles that are intrinsically related to processes of financial globalization.

  • Occupy Mall Street? How the Court Conditioned Public Space Where People Go

    Author:
    Anthony Maniscalco
    Year of Dissertation:
    2014
    Program:
    Political Science
    Advisor:
    Marshall Berman
    Abstract:

    This thesis explores the tension between practicable space and property rights. That tension has frequently animated legal contests over political expression in privately owned, publicly accessible marketplaces in the United States. Do American marketplaces function as marketplaces of ideas? Should they? In order to examine those questions, I survey the Supreme Court's considerations of expressive activity on public and commercial property, in particular, shopping centers. I begin by developing indications of public space, as well as noting the challenges for civic inclusion within the modern political sphere. Next, I survey historical practices of public space within (Western) marketplaces. Those practices reveal myriad negotiations over the multi-functionality of urban place, as well as dialectical interplay between publics and embodied spaces, which appear to impact civic capacity. In an era of suburbanization, space, spatial practices, and legal interpretations transform significantly, due in large part to the segregation of private places and purposes from genuine public uses. I combine social and political theory with case studies of judicial decision-making, in order to historicize the contest over practices and exclusions of space. I trace the development of the High Court's public forum doctrine, focusing specifically on typologies used to regulate expression on public property. Then I detail the Court's rulings on free speech and assembly inside shopping centers. After examining the way in which Supreme Court precedents have been construed in two states, New York and New Jersey, I argue for revisited First Amendment protections of expressive space inside privately owned shopping centers. The goal of this study will be to look beyond a zero-sum game between space and property, towards a more inclusive view of commerce and public functionality.

  • Education in Hope: Critical pedagogies and the ethic of care

    Author:
    Tony Monchinski
    Year of Dissertation:
    2009
    Program:
    Political Science
    Advisor:
    Marshall Berman
    Abstract:

    In the last half of the twentieth-century, critical pedagogies developed to challenge dominant educational models. While critical pedagogies have long argued that ethics is at the heart of their endeavors, the details of the ethical models reflected by critical pedagogies has gone largely unexamined. This dissertation argues that the critical pedagogies of John Dewey, Paulo Freire, and a group of scholar/activists working within the fold of feminist pedagogy all reflect an ethic of care. Carol Gilligan first introduced the concept behind an ethic of care in the early 1980s. Subsequent work within the field of feminist ethics, psychology, and education has expanded and refined the concept of an ethic of care. This dissertation seeks to make clear the connections between critical pedagogies and an ethic of care.

  • Community-Level Predictors of Family Homelessness in the United States

    Author:
    Ellen Munley
    Year of Dissertation:
    2012
    Program:
    Political Science
    Advisor:
    John Mollenkopf
    Abstract:

    The problem of reducing homelessness in U.S. communities has challenged policymakers and advocates, who have looked to academic research on homelessness to understand its causes and design strategies to prevent and reduce homelessness. Although individual-level research shows important differences between homeless families and homeless individuals, the literature on community-level predictors of homelessness includes little work focused on families. Using newly available data on rates of family homelessness, this study identifies economic and social factors associated with rates of homelessness at the community level, finding that family poverty rates and rental housing costs are strong and consistent predictors of family homelessness, with higher poverty rates and housing costs associated with higher rates of family homelessness. Housing market and economic factors are overall more consistent predictors than public health or demographic factors in these models of family homelessness. The study also looks closely at the public assistance programs that serve low-income families, asking whether the reach and generosity of these programs, as they vary across states and communities, have any relationship with the rates of homelessness among families. Finding that areas with higher rates of family homelessness tend to have greater enrollment of families in poverty in the TANF program, possible explanations for this result are investigated. The study also finds that the generosity of food stamp benefits is associated with lower family homelessness rates, while similar measures of TANF and SSI programs do not have a measurable community-level relationship with family homelessness rates. The study discusses several policy recommendations that could address housing market and economic determinants of homelessness, and the need for further individual-level and cross-national research that would continue this examination of the relationship between public assistance programs and family homelessness rates.

  • 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.

  • 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 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).