Alumni Dissertations

 

Alumni Dissertations

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  • THE SILENT GUERRILLAS: UNDER SLAVERY, IN PEASANT POLITICS, AND THROUGHOUT THE INDUSTRIAL AND SOCIAL FACTORIES

    Author:
    Kevin Van Meter
    Year of Dissertation:
    2014
    Program:
    Political Science
    Advisor:
    Mark Blasius
    Abstract:

    In the work that follows, I will examine what political theorist James C. Scott calls "the hidden transcripts" of social struggle, which are written between the lines of the political record through the quotidian and clandestine practices of resistance and mutual aid that are the first and last recourse of subjugated populations. By engaging with literature on contemporary and historical social movements, I will explore the emergence and brief legibility of these practices among chattel slaves in the American South, the peasantry in various settings, and in a number of other industrial and social settings in an attempt to determine the role of these practices in the formation of formal social movements.

  • "Free" Trade or "Fair" Trade? The Battle for the Rules of American Trade Policy from NAFTA to CAFTA (1991-2005)

    Author:
    Jean-Baptiste Velut
    Year of Dissertation:
    2009
    Program:
    Political Science
    Advisor:
    Frances Piven
    Abstract:

    The 1990s marked the emergence of the "new politics of American trade." A large coalition of labor, environmental and consumer organizations fought to broaden the narrow economic scope of American trade policy and change the rules of globalization. More than fifteen years after their first legislative battle against the North American Free Trade Agreement, what is the legacy of their political mobilization? What factors constrained their progress? Drawing from interviews with political actors, lobbying materials from labor, environmental and business organizations, and congressional records, this dissertation analyzes the clash between "fair" and "free" traders in five major legislative battles from 1991 to 2005. It reveals that the "special relationship" between the business community and the executive branch was the key obstacle to the achievements of the "blue (collar)-green" alliance from the beginning to the end of the policy process. Not only did the private sector enjoy privileged access to the negotiations phase, but the president also assisted free trade coalitions in their lobbying efforts, allowing them to win most legislative battles.

  • The Outsourcing of National Defense

    Author:
    Christopher Weimar
    Year of Dissertation:
    2009
    Program:
    Political Science
    Advisor:
    Peter Liberman
    Abstract:

    The outsourcing of military activities and services has grown dramatically in recent decades. My objective is to understand and explain this phenomenon at work in the United States Department of Defense (DoD) using theoretical frameworks of strategic efficiency, political ideology and organizational theory factors. This study seeks to answer the question, why has the DOD outsourced support activities and functions that contribute to larger national security objectives and were traditionally performed by DoD personnel? I'll use a case-study methodology to examine outsourcing in the DoD between 1970 and 2005, to include an in-depth look at the information technology (IT) networks area of the military services. I've chosen these cases because they combine to represent a broad perspective of outsourcing behavior across each service over time as well as a specific core area relevant to the war-fighting mission of each service. Since the phenomenon is under explored in political science, my study will be valuable in expanding our understanding of the factors influencing the increasing role of market actors in national defense activities. I'll also address issues regarding the distribution of power, authority and public accountability while identifying relevant bureaucratic, ideological and organizational factors affecting the development and implementation of national security.

  • Enforcing Liberalism: Political Advisory Networks and New Economic Institutions

    Author:
    Karen Young
    Year of Dissertation:
    2009
    Program:
    Political Science
    Advisor:
    Susan Woodward
    Abstract:

    This dissertation examines two cases of extreme monetary policies (currency boards or dollarization) in response to inflationary and bank crises. The research asks why, after major currency and banking failures, governments struggle to restructure and reform their bank systems--both public and private--to prevent future crises. The dissertation complements traditional institutional, interest-based, and domestic corruption explanations for stalled or incomplete liberal reforms which have overlooked an important agent in the regulation of the financial sector: the interaction of formal and informal rule-making institutions. Informal rule-making institutions, namely political advisory networks in the domestic and international finance sector, can inform the scope, timing, and legitimacy of changes in both monetary and banking policy attempted by formal rule-making institutions--the executive and legislative powers of government. The research seeks to descriptively model advisory networks and their sources of strength. I compare two cases, Bulgaria and Ecuador, using elite ethnographic interviews that study up and study through levels and processes of economic institutional change. The dissertation has two key findings: 1) that informal advisory networks can originate and execute extreme monetary policy changes with little deliberative advice from national political or international financial institutions, and 2) where liberal advisory networks are strong, the network can dominate the monetary and bank reform agenda, which often results in a stubborn persistence of liberal policies which reject protection mechanisms (credit ceilings, credit bureaus, state supervision) even through partisan changes in subsequent governments.

  • Diaspora Movements, Social Networks, and Civil Wars: The Irish-American (Dis)connection and the Northern Ireland Troubles

    Author:
    Danielle Zach
    Year of Dissertation:
    2013
    Program:
    Political Science
    Advisor:
    Susan Woodward
    Abstract:

    Armed insurgents often seek material and other forms of support from communities beyond the borders of contested states. Situating long-distance, grassroots financing of rebel groups as a form of social movement, this dissertation examines patterns of transnational radicalism among diasporic populations with regard to "homeland" civil wars. The study is conducted within a dynamic, multilevel framework that analyzes: (1) the nested political opportunity context (i.e., domestic, international, and transnational) within which militants must mobilize for "the cause"; (2) the availability of potential resources, especially socio-organizational ones; and (3) the strategic capacity (skill and social capital endowments) of movement leaders. It devotes significant attention to social network properties and mechanisms that facilitate collective action. More specifically, the dissertation investigates patterns of Irish-American support for the Provisional Irish Republican Army's campaign in the 1970s and 1980s. It asks why financing for the republican movement was very modest (although significant) given the vast size of Irish America, and in comparison to other "groups" with respect to their "homeland" wars. This dissertation argues that coordinated suppression among a triad of governments with robust state capacity (the United States, the United Kingdom, and the Republic of Ireland) created legal risks and costs to supporters and limited the movement's reachability beyond tightly-knit communities. At the same time, these Irish "urban villages" were dissipating as a result of exclusionary US immigration policy, an economic boom in the Republic of Ireland, and upward social mobility in the United States. Socioeconomic integration coupled with few new immigrants led to the disintegration of moral economies, occupational desegregation, spatial dispersion, and an emaciated organizational infrastructure. Yet how the Irish Northern Aid Committee (Noraid)--the main republican fundraising arm in the United States--endured for the three-decades-long conflict in the face of these countervailing challenges from above and below presents a second puzzle. The study argues that the leadership's network-building strategies explain the organization's resilience. While Noraid actively cultivated interpersonal ties among the Irish in the United States and across the Atlantic, movement leaders pursued three strategies at the organizational level that would prove crucial to Noraid's longevity (centralization, co-optation of existing communal institutions, and brokerage, especially with building trades unions).

  • NAVIGATING INTERNATIONAL RIGHTS AND LOCAL POLITICS: SEXUALITY GOVERNANCE IN A POST-COLONIAL SETTING

    Author:
    Sami Zeidan
    Year of Dissertation:
    2010
    Program:
    Political Science
    Advisor:
    Mark Blasius
    Abstract:

    Feminist theory has demonstrated how boundaries of the political - for example, what is public or private - are themselves political, constructs of power relations in societies. Correspondingly, political theories about sexuality show how it is a political category because sexuality is a site where power is exercised in modern Western societies as well as a way in which people have come to identify themselves in modernity as subjects of rights. The relevance of this question to political science lies in the socio-economic conditions and political institutions that both produce gender or sexual identities and result in inequalities based upon them. I seek to analyze how gender and sexual dissidents develop their own theoretical languages to challenge these inequalities in today's globalizing world. Such identity categories and languages are fields of contestation and cultural hybridity. I suggest that the appropriation of concepts such as Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender (LGBT) may, first, have different meanings in various parts of the world and, second, be a bridge to developing more local, indigenous terms - including recovering older, pre-colonial histories and traditions. I demonstrate that a public sphere for dissident or non-normative sexualities and genders in post-colonial settings exists, access to which can allow legal reform and political gains. Drawing on postcolonial and queer theory, I argue that we are all part of sexuality governance regimes and that recognizing the utility of human rights standards around gender identity and sexual orientation enables acknowledgment of living in the interstices, between identity categories, as a right as well. I use Lebanon and its political culture as a case study and examine the Lebanese LGBT organizations Helem and Meem. I consider the effect of contemporary media and the Internet on shaping the public sphere and political mobilization. I refer to international documents that address gender and sexuality, and I analyze the impact of religious dictates, all in relation to the rich history of sexual discourses and practices in the Arab/Muslim world. My analysis contributes to expanding the discipline of political science and thereby to framing the possibilities for political advocacy on behalf of sexuality and gender.

  • Welfare Reform and the Mobilization Power of the Displaced Workers in China, 1994-2004

    Author:
    Yali Zhang
    Year of Dissertation:
    2010
    Program:
    Political Science
    Advisor:
    Yan Sun
    Abstract:

    Welfare Reform and the Mobilization Power of the Displaced Workers in China, 1994-2004 By Yali Zhang Radical economic restructuring in the 1990s resulted in massive layoffs in China's state sector. Protests by SOE laid-off workers reached its peak in 1999, but puzzlingly abated despite increasing popular contentions overall in recent years. Why have laid-off workers, despite their enormous size as a social group, their huge losses in economic reform, and their displayed strength in confrontations with state authorities in the 1990s, failed to become a leading group in China's growing contentious politics and instead become pacified over the years? T hrough policy tracing of seven welfare programs and fieldwork in Sichuan Province, this dissertation seeks to examine how two decades of welfare reform have affected the mobilization power of laid-off workers. Three interplaying mechanisms, as intended or unintended results of welfare reform, explain laid-off workers' pacification. First, the market approach adopted during the first stage of welfare reform (1980 to 1996) resulted in transformed relationships among the state, enterprises, and individuals. The retreat of the state at this stage changed the role of the state from a direct welfare provider to a regulator. Such change contributed to diverting workers' target of blame for layoffs from the state to the management of individual enterprises at later stages. Secondly, strong state intervention at the second stage of welfare reform (1997 to 2004) served to fragment laid-off workers internally through its age-related benefit packages. Early retirement and higher pension benefits relative to other programs fulfilled the socialist social contract and appeased the most vocal groups among the laid-off. Active labor policies have further divided laid-off workers into those able to relocate jobs and those unable to do so. Livelihood-guarantee arrangements have made mobilization even harder, both emotionally and operationally. Furthermore, state intervention won great public sympathies for the state, depriving workers of social support for further mobilization. Finally, declining profitability of the state sector reduced workers' bargaining power accordingly. In sum, a lack of a common target of blame, weakened capacity to mobilize, and public support for state authorities explain the pacification of laid-off workers in the late 1990s.