Alumni Dissertations

 

Alumni Dissertations

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  • Engaging Bad Governments: Resource Groups and Patterns of Engagement in Bangladesh

    Author:
    Nayma Qayum
    Year of Dissertation:
    2014
    Program:
    Political Science
    Advisor:
    Vincent Boudreau
    Abstract:

    Bangladesh's governments have pursued an aid-based neoliberal development agenda since the 1980s, which has allowed new resources and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) to permeate rural society. These NGOs operate programs through resource groups, small groups of impoverished women who gather at the village or ward levels. This dissertation argues that resource groups have built new citizen-state relationships and enabled new forms of engagement between citizens and their governments. These new transactional relationships are governed simultaneously by informal institutions of accountability and informal institutions of exchange; the former allow actors to reinforce formal rules when badly-performing institutions deviate from them, and the latter permit actors to navigate weak formal institutions through illegal exchanges. Findings illustrate that transactional relationships are replacing patronage relationships with a combination of transaction-driven and programmatic linkages, and allowing poor women to engage with formal institutions in multiple ways - in partisan politics, local government, and informal avenues - that coexist with ongoing urban resistance politics.

  • State Structure and Economic Development: The Political Economy of Thailand and the Philippines

    Author:
    Antoinette Raquiza
    Year of Dissertation:
    2010
    Program:
    Political Science
    Advisor:
    Susan Woodward
    Abstract:

    This dissertation investigates the factors that account for different economic performance among late developing countries that are vulnerable to external shocks, crony capitalism, and political instability. The dissertation undertakes an historical, comparative analysis of industrializing Thailand and relatively low-performing Philippines, and argues that differences in economic performance are due to variations in the institutional configuration of state power, defined along two dimensions: the embeddedness of governing elites in state institutions, and the relationship between the political leadership and economic technocracy in the development policy process. The dissertation adopts the concept of bureaucratic polity, used in Thailand studies, to refer to the series of coalitions between military rulers and senior technocrats that controlled state power for most of that country's modern history. Thai political rulers and technocrat economic managers were deeply embedded, respectively, in the military and civilian bureaucracies; economic technocrats had relative autonomy from the political rulers. For the Philippines, this study introduces the concept of proprietary polity, a form of elite rule in which personalistic politicians gain power because of their personal wealth, connections, and political skills. Philippine political leaders belonged to weak political parties and recruited technocrats from the private sector. Hence, the development bureaucracy was strongly subordinate to political leaders. These distinct institutional settings produced different economic growth patterns. Thailand's more stable bureaucratic polity proved conducive to long-term capital accumulation, necessary for the rise of a robust industrial sector. Because political contestation proved much more disruptive under the Philippines's proprietary polity, investment flowed more into the commercial sectors, where economic activities promised fast turnovers. Four causal mechanisms link the institutional setting to economic outcomes: (1) political contestation, 2) presence of policy continuity, 3) choice of policy design and tools, and, 4) the consolidation of different policy constituencies.

  • Cooperating for fairness: The role of electoral institutions in generating more egalitarian legislation in the sub-Saharan African region

    Author:
    Karin Riedl
    Year of Dissertation:
    2013
    Program:
    Political Science
    Advisor:
    Susan Woodward
    Abstract:

    This dissertation examines the impact of electoral systems on legislation that should produce more socially egalitarian societies in the sub-Saharan African region. Based on a data analysis of 47 sub-Saharan African countries, this dissertation establishes that proportional representation (PR) electoral systems are significantly more likely than plurality or absolute majority electoral systems to generate legislation that establishes and protects equal rights and opportunities for vulnerable societal groups, including women, gays, and people most likely to be infected with HIV. The analysis also shows that plurality and absolute majority systems are more likely to generate legislation that threatens the equal rights and opportunities of vulnerable groups. The dissertation provides causal explanations for the correlation between PR electoral systems and legislation that protects vulnerable groups. An in-depth examination of four countries in the sub-Saharan African region - Benin, Kenya, Namibia, and Uganda - illustrates that proportional representation electoral systems produce incentives for political parties to adopt issues that are of interest to pockets of the electorate and that do not necessarily enjoy the support of the majority of voters. The dissertation shows that the comparatively weaker relationships between individual Members of Parliament (MPs) and their largely conservative constituents allow political parties in PR electoral systems to be better equipped than their counterparts to ensure relatively stronger party discipline. As a result of this, political parties are more capable of efficiently pursuing such legislation within political parties and through more effective inter-party cooperation within committees.

  • LIGHTS ON, LIGHTS OUT: THE ELUSIVE PROMISE OF PUBLIC SERVICE DELIVERY AND ELECTRICITY PROVISION FOR THE RURAL POOR UNDER DECENTRALIZATION IN GHANA: 1992-2008

    Author:
    Naaborle Sackeyfio
    Year of Dissertation:
    2012
    Program:
    Political Science
    Advisor:
    Irving Markovitz
    Abstract:

    Electricity is a ubiquitous element of modern life. While it is elusive for many in the developing world by all accounts Ghana has achieved a successful rate of electrification and outpaced many states in sub-Saharan Africa. As a country widely admired for its democratic governance, economic growth and relative stability, the benefits of ample sources of hydropower and other forms of electric energy have not accrued to the rural poor as the target population of decentralized electrification programs. Previously dismal electricity access prior to the early 1990s led to the pursuit of electrification initiatives to power the country more efficiently and equitably. Under a mantle of decentralized institutions-thought to produce optimal outcomes for public service delivery of goods like electricity and water, access for the rural poor has improved. Yet questions of how political decentralization and market oriented power sector reforms have structured electricity access for the rural poor remain under explored. Since the completion of this study, a 55% access rate substantially increased to 66%. This dissertation argues that though Ghana has made remarkable progress in electricity provision, the merits of decentralized electrification initiatives have yielded differential benefits for the rural poor who comprise a significant bulk of the country's population. I maintain that under a decentralized institutional framework, thought to be inherently ideal for societies in transition, successful service delivery of electricity reflects uneven outcomes for the rural poor evident in the political capture of local institutions charged with utility provision. This dissertation is significant because it focuses on electricity access as an inconspicuous but critical socio-economic component for large numbers of people in the developing African world. Virtually taken for granted in advanced, industrial and post industrial world, the quest for equitable, and affordable access in developing, emerging economies like Ghana in many ways represents a microcosm of the public-private battleground to reconstitute the state's role in the economy, through a neo-liberal agenda of electric power reforms.

  • Free Spaces, Collective Identity and Political Consciousness: Student Activism and Repression on West Java, 1920-1979

    Author:
    Stephanie Sapiie
    Year of Dissertation:
    2012
    Program:
    Political Science
    Advisor:
    Irving Markovitz
    Abstract:

    Whereas previous studies of the Indonesian student movement have been limited to studies of single episodes of activism of student protests, this work focuses on the narratives, and repertoires that, together with crucial external events of political and economic realignments created both pressures and opportunities that produced contentious identities of Indonesian student activism. This study reveals the development of a particular type of contentious student activism was driven by private frustrations, grievances and intellectual concerns, and that led to particular forms of collective action that became institutionalized in two ways: 1) as a repertoire relied on by students; and 2) more generally, as a culturally acceptable mode of expressing opposition. However, the development of student's political consciousness did not reflect only political grievances and frustrations. Student activism was the result of many different resources and opportunities. To be successful, student movements required both the physical and conceptual space in which they could construct political opposition. This dissertation challenges the assumption that free spaces must always be local, free and participated in by groups from below. Free spaces may be as important for highly-visible privileged groups as they are for an invisible subaltern. This may force activists to seek free spaces in places far from local settings supported by transnational actors and social networks. This study finds this phenomenon in fields as different as the anti-European anti-colonial student movements of the 1920s to the post Indonesian independence movements of the 1950s down to the present. By focusing on the claims and contentious identities of the study movement and of the student movements, this study reorients the study of Indonesian student activism from analysis of protest to the analysis of the specific spaces created through their reliance on the powerful narratives that shaped each decade of student activism.

  • After Labourism: The Neoliberal Turn by Labor Parties and the Response by Trade Unions

    Author:
    Jason Schulman
    Year of Dissertation:
    2009
    Program:
    Political Science
    Advisor:
    Susan Woodward
    Abstract:

    Explanations for the embrace of pro-market policies by social democratic parties over the last thirty years have pointed to various factors, most commonly the globalization of production and finance, the shrinking of the blue-collar working class, and the rise of so-called postmaterialist politics. The dominant theme in the literature is the transformation of these parties under the pressure of the global capitalist economy, which forces social democratic governments to implement benefit cuts, deregulate markets, and commercialize and privatize the public sector. Such accounts are insufficient because they do not take three important factors into account. The first factor is the change in the class composition of the leadership and individual membership of social democratic parties, even in labor parties with trade union affiliations (New Zealand, Britain, Australia). These parties are increasingly dominated by the salariat--a stratum of intermediate executives and technicians, professionals and engineers, all of whom enjoy a high degree of economic security, job autonomy, and education. The second factor is the diminishing of the influence of the unions within the very parties that are supposed to be their political representatives. The third factor is the lack of a strategy by the unions to ensure that the party leadership must listen to them and take their interests into account when formulating policies. This may be due to a longstanding lack of interest by the unions in engaging in politics (New Zealand) or a passivity by the unions which resulted from many years of anti-union Conservative rule (Britain). In the case of Australia under Labor Party governance (1983-1996) the unions were sufficiently united, disciplined and strategically minded to ensure that a Labor Party government would integrate them into the making of policy. The evidence suggests that the centralized organization of union federations makes the union movement appear as a credible force to labor party leaderships, and that to be able to moderate how quickly and how drastically labor party governments can enact neoliberal policies the unions must be politically active within their historic parties and offer a coherent economic program years before the parties take office.

  • Nationhood in the City: Assimilation, Citizenship, and Belonging among College-Educated, Second Generation Turks in Berlin and Dominicans in New York

    Author:
    Utku Sezgin
    Year of Dissertation:
    2013
    Program:
    Political Science
    Advisor:
    John Mollenkopf
    Abstract:

    The main question posed by the study is: "How are university-educated immigrant-origin young people from disadvantaged backgrounds responding to the social and political opportunities provided by their cities and nations?" Through in-depth interviews and secondary research, my project sheds light on how local and national institutions, and the historical context, of host societies shape the outlook of upwardly mobile second generation immigrants on questions of citizenship and national belonging. It focuses on interviewing college-educated individuals from similarly disadvantaged groups in two similar locales: Turks in Berlin and Dominicans in New York. My hypothesis is that New York City and the United States offer an institutional package of opportunities and responses that provides a more favorable context of reception for these individuals; and that this in turn fosters a stronger sense of commitment to and membership in the U.S. polity than is the case in Berlin and Germany. This package includes: the civil rights culture/laws, the relatively liberal and pluralistic citizenship regime, an immigration-oriented national and local political culture and institutional history, and the relatively penetrable and inclusive local and national political system that accommodates immigrants.. The project goes beyond segmented assimilation theory to critique its overly structural and deterministic views of race, immigration, and class. The dissertation also takes issue with the view that citizenship and nation-states have been decoupled in our globalized age, a view that has by now largely superseded traditional notions of citizenship tied to the nation-state. My primary means of data collection have been 61 face-to-face, in-depth, semi-structured interviews in the two contexts. The interviews aimed to identify how respondents' identity construction and citizenship practices operate within the host context.

  • Rhetoric and the Politics of Necessity

    Author:
    Daniel Skinner
    Year of Dissertation:
    2009
    Program:
    Political Science
    Advisor:
    Joan Tronto
    Abstract:

    This dissertation casts the concept of necessity as a rhetorical form that is commonly used to shape what appears politically possible. I argue that engaging necessity as rhetoric helps not only to conceptualize key political concepts, such as freedom, but to mediate some perennial problems in politics. To make this argument, I undertake two basic tasks. First, I catalog a series of different kinds of necessity arguments that appear across the history of Western political thought. To show necessity's centrality to canonical political theory, I examine the work of Aristotle, Machiavelli, Hobbes, Marx and Arendt. I then apply this analysis to three examples, each of which illuminates a different kind of political problem: Thucydides's History of the Peloponnesian War illustrates the role necessity plays in producing the appearance of inevitable war; John Marshall's opinion in McCulloch v. Maryland shows necessity as a problem in legal interpretation; finally, contests over the meaning of medical necessity in American health care debates illustrate problems inherent in the relationship between medicine and politics.

  • Biotechnology Regulation in the European Union and France: Un Dialogue des Sourds

    Author:
    Patricia Stapleton
    Year of Dissertation:
    2012
    Program:
    Political Science
    Advisor:
    Christa Altenstetter
    Abstract:

    In the early 1990s, France was at the forefront of agricultural biotechnology innovation and implementation. Yet, by the end of the decade, France had become one of the most vocal opponents among the European Union member states to genetically modified organisms and genetically modified food. France's continued resistance to implementing EU agricultural biotechnology legislation has created a regulatory impasse in this issue area. This study examines the triggering events that led to the reversal in the French position on GMOs, as well as explores the institutional development of the EU and French regulatory frameworks. Using a historical institutionalist approach, this work demonstrates that triggering events in the 1990s led to policy changes and institutional development in the fields of public health and food safety, both at the EU-level and within France. The main argument put forth in this dissertation is that the differences in the institutional evolution of the French regulatory framework for GMOs when compared to the evolution of the EU's regulatory framework has created the regulatory deadlock, which can be characterized as un dialogue des sourds between the EU and France. Furthermore, this impasse will continue to exist as long as the EU disregards the core concerns of anti-GMO sentiment in France.

  • THE UNITED STATES OF THE WORLD: HUMAN RIGHTS, POLITICAL ENTREPRENEURSHIP, AND U.S. FOREIGN POLICY VIA AFFECTIVE AND RATIONAL POLITICS

    Author:
    Marriah Star
    Year of Dissertation:
    2011
    Program:
    Political Science
    Advisor:
    Andrew Polsky
    Abstract:

    This study examines how Political Entrepreneurs in the United States Congress responded to human rights abuses in six countries during the 1970s and 1980s: Cambodia, El Salvador, South Africa, the Soviet Union, Taiwan, and Uganda. It presents a four-point model for approaching the study of United States human rights policy. The key element in all the cases is bonding social capital, also called affective politics. American policy towards the Soviet Union and Uganda both demonstrate the integration of international, transnational, and domestic politics. Taiwan receives special attention because U.S. Taiwan policy continues to exemplify the integration of international relations, transnational relations, and domestic politics. The Formosan Association for Public Affairs (FAPA) represents Taiwanese-Americans who care about promoting democracy on Taiwan and, ultimately, Taiwan's legal status as an independent country. FAPA cultivates and sustains relationships with members of Congress and their staff to create the Taiwan Caucus in the House and Senate, second in influence only to the Israel Caucus, which is cultivated by the American-Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC). This study investigates how the Taiwan Independence Movement (TIM) learned, in part from AIPAC, to become politically viable as an ethnic lobby in the 1980s after limited success in the 1960s and 1970s, despite lacking the voting power and financial resources of Jewish-Americans. This study examines how bonding social capital (affective politics) is used to compensate for deficiencies in financial capital and voting power (rational politics), thus creating the political capital that political entrepreneurs use to shape U.S. foreign policy. Political entrepreneurs include citizens, congressional staff, and members of Congress, who have an impact on U.S. foreign policy that is greater than we would expect if we studied their resources by using only a rational choice framework. This study demonstrates that scholars of international relations, transnational politics and American politics can analyze the biographies of political entrepreneurs and their emotional relationships to more fully understand U.S. foreign policy.