Political Science - Theses, Dissertations, and other Required Graduate Degree Essays

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Battle of the Sexes? How the riding-level gender context shapes toxic campaigning

Author: 
Date created: 
2020-04-14
Abstract: 

The 2019 Canadian Federal Election saw no shortage of toxic and attack-style campaign communications. Much of this took place on Twitter, which has grown in popularity amongst both candidates and the public since 2015. Examining the tweets of every candidate in the election from the LPC, CPC, NDP, GPC, and PPC, this study seeks to understand which candidates are most likely to send out toxic tweets. I find that within parties, women are almost always more likely than men to send out toxic tweets. Most importantly, I find that the representation of women within ridings is key to understanding candidate toxicity online. On the one hand, women are more likely to be toxic than men in ridings dominated by men while on the other hand, the opposite is true for men: they are more likely to send out a toxic tweet than women in ridings where women constitute the majority.

Document type: 
Graduating extended essay / Research project
File(s): 
Senior supervisor: 
Steven Weldon
Department: 
Arts & Social Sciences: Department of Political Science
Thesis type: 
(Research Project) M.A.

Lobbying for democracy: Interest groups in Canada’s parliamentary system

Author: 
Date created: 
2020-04-20
Abstract: 

Political scientists have long been interested in how interest groups influence policy—especially the information they provide to elected officials. In the American presidential system and in European consensus-parliamentary systems, information is increasingly understood as a subsidy from groups to their allies in the legislature. However, in majoritarian parliamentary systems (i.e. “Westminster” countries), such a perspective remains underdeveloped. The central motivation of this project is to understand how interest groups use information to intervene in the Westminster policy process. As an empirical case, I focus on a prominent majoritarian parliament: Canada. I generate quantitative evidence from three original datasets. First, I use aggregated Canadian lobbying registrations spanning fifteen policy areas from 1990-2009. Second, I use a dataset of 41,619 individual-level lobbying records from the House of Commons between 2010 and 2017. Third, I use a large dataset of committee utterances by Canadian parliamentarians and witnesses between 2006 and 2018, totalling 1.09M utterances. I present three major findings. First, lobbying from “cause” groups—representing diffuse interests like climate change—strengthens government responsiveness to public opinion. Lobbying from “sectional” groups—representing industry and professional associations— has no observable effect. Second, interest groups are more likely to communicate with government frontbenchers than with opposition or backbench members. This gap diminishes as agenda control diffuses to the opposition (i.e. during minority government). Third, interest groups—although nominally non-partisan—talk about policy issues in much the same way as partisan elected officials. Although we might expect legislative committees to help parliamentarians find common ground, the evidence suggests they often provide a venue for rival parties to learn about and develop competing issue frames.

Document type: 
Thesis
File(s): 
Senior supervisor: 
Mark Pickup
Department: 
Arts & Social Sciences: Department of Political Science
Thesis type: 
(Thesis) Ph.D.

Backlash and gender-focused aid: A quantitative study of gender-based violence in Sub-Saharan Africa

Author: 
Date created: 
2019-10-03
Abstract: 

Women’s empowerment and gender equality for all women and girls is one of the United Nations' seventeen Sustainable Development Goals to eradicate poverty and ensure a sustainable future for all. Global development projects targeting women seek to challenge existing discriminatory gender norms, power relationships and values. Based on the backlash hypothesis that suggests changes in existing power relations and gender roles can result in a violent backlash, I use quantitative analysis to identify whether there is a correlation between gender-focused aid and gender-based violence against women in Sub-Saharan African countries. The time-series analysis did not demonstrate a statistically significant positive or negative correlation between gender-focused aid and gender-based violence against women. The inconclusive results show that existing limited data and the lack of comprehensive indicators to measure the violence against women creates challenges in understanding the impact of development efforts on the well-being of women around the world.vvvvvvvvvvvvv

Document type: 
Graduating extended essay / Research project
File(s): 
Senior supervisor: 
Steven Weldon
Department: 
Arts & Social Sciences: Department of Political Science
Thesis type: 
(Research Project) M.A.

Unexpected preferences: Exploring conservative attitudes toward healthcare spending

Author: 
Date created: 
2019-12-04
Abstract: 

In many western democracies, self-proclaimed conservatives display attitudes that are ill-fit with conservative political ideology. This is evident in conservative attitudes toward healthcare spending, with conservatives supporting increased healthcare spending far more than their ideological self-placement would lead us to expect. Using data from Canada, the United States, and Britain, this research seeks to explain this puzzle by examining conservatives as two distinct groups: those who have political preferences that correspond with their ideological identity, and those who do not. I find that in some ways, these two groups of conservatives are different and behave differently, but the differences are not consistent across all three countries. In addition, consistency between political attitudes and ideological identity explains conservative support for healthcare spending in Canada and the United States, but not Britain.

Document type: 
Graduating extended essay / Research project
File(s): 
Senior supervisor: 
Mark Pickup
Department: 
Arts & Social Sciences: Department of Political Science
Thesis type: 
(Research Project) M.A.

A legacy of colonialism: The criminalization of homosexuality in India

Author: 
Date created: 
2019-12-19
Abstract: 

In 2018, the Supreme Court of India decided to decriminalize “homosexuality” in India by repealing Section 377, a colonial-era anti-sodomy maintained within the Indian Penal Code. This was a remarkable decision, however, in 2013 the same court upheld Section 377 as integral to Indian law and society. What changed between 2013 and 2018 that led to the reconsideration of the Supreme Court decision? In this paper, I seek to explain this process of decriminalization by analyzing the judicial interpretation of the anti-sodomy law in three key Court cases: Naz Foundation v. Government of NCT of Delhi & Others, 2009; Suresh Kumar Koushal v. Naz Foundation and others, 2013; and Navtej Singh Johar and others v. Union of India, Thr. I use an inductive approach and qualitative coding methods to analyze the validity of Section 377 in those legal documents. I argue that a shift in the Court’s language when addressing the rights of sexual minorities contributed to a new rights discourse that changed the way Section 377 applied to the Indian Constitution. While Section 377 in its application was held to be unconstitutional, the reasons for doing so appear reflective of both a traditional and secular notion of gender and sexual orientation. This new discourse involved a move towards secularized notions of gender, as well as a nod to traditional Indian culture surrounding gender variance. We can view this discursive shift as essentially authorizing a break with colonial understandings of sex and gender and validating in law a more fluid conception of sexual identity.

Document type: 
Graduating extended essay / Research project
File(s): 
Senior supervisor: 
Genevieve Fuji-Johnson
Department: 
Arts & Social Sciences: Department of Political Science
Thesis type: 
(Research Project) M.A.

Gender gap and gender differences in national party choices in Indian general election, 2014

Author: 
Date created: 
2019-12-03
Abstract: 

Traditionally, Indian women have been more likely to vote for the Indian National Congress (INC) compared to the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) than men. In this paper, I draw from the Developmental Theory of Modern Gender Gap on party choices to formulate hypotheses about the socio-demographic factors and gender differences in attitudes that could have led to the gender gap in party choices in the 2014 election. I test these hypotheses by conducting statistical analysis of data from Wave 6 of the World Value Survey. My research shows that contrary to the modern gender gap theory, the gender advantage of India’s centre-left party comes from states with low levels of human development in comparison to more developed states. I also find that the Developmental theory cannot explain this gender gap as Indian women are still overwhelmingly represented in categories that lead to the traditional gender gap.

Document type: 
Graduating extended essay / Research project
File(s): 
Senior supervisor: 
Eline de Rooij
Department: 
Arts & Social Sciences: Department of Political Science
Thesis type: 
(Research Project) M.A.

Women and visible minority representation on Vancouver’s city council

Author: 
Date created: 
2020-01-07
Abstract: 

The 2018 municipal elections highlighted that visible minorities, particularly visible minority women, are underrepresented in Vancouver’s politics; yet, in terms of population, visible minorities outnumber white Vancouverites. I examine to what extent and how socioeconomic and political factors derived from the supply and demand literature contribute to the underrepresentation or lack thereof of women and visible minorities. A supply-side problem results in the lack of women and minority representation when there are not enough “qualified” women and visible minorities running for office. A demand-side problem occurs when party officials act as gatekeepers discouraging women and visible minorities from running for office. I answer this question using a combination of the statistical analysis of secondary data on candidates from 2005 to 2018 and a content analysis of data derived from semi-structured interviews with incumbent city councilors and municipal party officials involved in candidate recruitment. Results show that women are not underrepresented in the Vancouver city council. In fact, women have the best chance of winning as long as they are white women. Visible minorities are underrepresented because there are not enough “qualified” visible minority candidates running. Those who run not only have less socioeconomic resources than white candidates but also experience party officials serving as gatekeepers.

Document type: 
Graduating extended essay / Research project
File(s): 
Senior supervisor: 
Eline de Rooij
Department: 
Arts & Social Sciences: Department of Political Science
Thesis type: 
(Research Project) M.A.

Decoding the black box of ‘Sanctuary City’ policies: An empirical study of Access Without Fear policies in Vancouver and Toronto

Author: 
Date created: 
2019-08-22
Abstract: 

In 2013, Toronto became the first Canadian city to adopt the Access to City Services for Undocumented Torontonians policy that ensures all residents have access to local services without fear of being asked for proof of immigration status. Three years later, Vancouver city council adopted the Access to City Services Without Fear for Residents with Uncertain or No Immigration Status policy, shortly after the cities of Hamilton and Montréal. Canadian sanctuary city, or Access Without Fear, policies aim to support access to city services without fear for residents with precarious or no immigration status. While some scholars argue that adopting sanctuary city policies challenges national immigration policies, others question its effectiveness and counteract the capacity of cities to honour the promises of providing access to basic services to residents that the city is meant to serve. My thesis explores how the issue of Access Without Fear in Vancouver and Toronto captured the attention of policymakers and gained entry to city council agendas. Drawing from Érik Neveu’s constructivist framework, I use data from policy and civil society reports, as well as twenty-six qualitative, semi-structured interviews to compare sanctuary city policies in Toronto and Vancouver. My analysis reveals that identifying the most suitable political champion capable of leveraging influence within and outside city council led to the effective mobilisation and successful advocacy to push and propel the issue to the institutional, albeit political, agenda.

Document type: 
Thesis
File(s): 
Senior supervisor: 
Aude-Claire Fourot
Genevieve Fuji Johnson
Department: 
Arts & Social Sciences: Department of Political Science
Thesis type: 
(Thesis) M.A.

The politics of legitimacy: A case study in specific claims

Author: 
Date created: 
2019-08-12
Abstract: 

Specific Claims is a cornerstone of the Government of Canada’ efforts to improve its relationship with Indigenous peoples. Specific Claims was introduced when the Canadian state had reduced legitimacy regarding Indigenous peoples as a result of the failed White Paper policy in 1969 and the Supreme court’s Calder decision in 1973. It promised to fulfill historical obligations towards Indigenous peoples; it has yet to meets its goals almost five decades later. Indigenous leaders are frustrated and have declared that the policy is designed to appease them while the Government of Canada continues to benefit from their lands and resources. This paper draws on qualitative coding methods to examine and explain legitimacy issues within Specific Claims. Specifically, data from parliamentary committee testimonies and three interviews indicate that Indigenous concerns with Specific Claims center around transparency, accessibility, and power. These concerns indicate problems of legitimacy in Specific Claims.

Document type: 
Graduating extended essay / Research project
File(s): 
Senior supervisor: 
Remi Leger
Department: 
Arts & Social Sciences: Department of Political Science
Thesis type: 
(Research Project) M.A.

Why do workers vote radical right?: Workplace experiences and the new class cleavage

Author: 
Date created: 
2019-08-14
Abstract: 

Why are working-class individuals over-represented among supporters of radical right populist (RRP) parties? Why does the radical right seem especially popular with skilled manual workers, and not service workers or routine operatives? This study addresses these questions by exploring the effects of occupational characteristics on radical right support. By drawing on detailed occupational data from the O*NET database and linking it to European Social Survey responses, this study tests whether workplace autonomy and occupational task content are linked to RRP support, and whether these links are mediated through immigration attitudes and authoritarian values. Both non-routine interpersonal and routine manual work are found to be negatively associated with RRP support, but only for low-skilled workers. Both types of work appear to influence workers' immigration attitudes, possibly by requiring increased contact with immigrants, whether as clients and customers or as coworkers. By contrast, non-routine physical work is strongly positively associated with radical right support. This effect is only weakly mediated by attitudinal variables and has similar magnitude to other established predictors of RRP support. These findings strongly suggest that occupational task content, and the types of social interactions and norms which these tasks require, influence political preferences and help explain why individuals in certain occupations are more likely to support the radical right.

Document type: 
Graduating extended essay / Research project
File(s): 
Senior supervisor: 
Steven Weldon
Department: 
Arts & Social Sciences: Department of Political Science
Thesis type: 
(Research Project) M.A.