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

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Arms Control on the Eve of Destruction? The Prospects for an Arctic Nuclear Weapons-Free Zone in an Age of Counterforce Dominance

Author: 
Date created: 
2017-12-19
Abstract: 

Within the context of the U.S.-Russian nuclear competition, this dissertation investigates the feasibility of cooperation on an Arctic Nuclear Weapons-Free Zone. The strategic dimension has been largely neglected in assessing the potential for establishing an arms control regime in a region of such geo-strategic importance. In the tradition of offence-defence theory, this work stems from the assumption that conditions defined by a reduction in threatening strategic behaviour must be established between the two Arctic nuclear powers before such an initiative can move forward in the form of cooperation. This work proposes a refined Offence-Defence Balance model to assess the intensity of the strategic competition between two nuclear states under conditions dominated by Deterrence by Denial versus Deterrence by Punishment nuclear strategies. Qualitative indicators of sea, air, and land-based delivery platforms for nuclear forces oriented towards the offense or defence, including plans for nuclear modernization, ballistic missile defence, and conventional counterforce alternatives, assessed in conjunction with offensive or defensive nuclear postures determine whether nuclear states are likely to engage in cooperative initiatives towards arms control or competition and arms races. The assessment demonstrates that efforts by the U.S. to achieve nuclear superiority through counterforce dominance have resulted in actions by its principal nuclear competitor to pursue nuclear postures and delivery technologies that offset the U.S. nuclear advantage. Such conditions intensify the strategic competition, creating a nuclear security dilemma, which generates new arms races, and challenge the future of arms control treaties such as the New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty and the Intermediate Range Nuclear Forces Treaty, and militate against cooperation on new arms control initiatives such as an Arctic Nuclear Weapons-Free Zone.

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

Islamophobia: A Comparative, Multilevel Analysis of Western Europe

Author: 
Date created: 
2015-05-22
Abstract: 

This study examines the ways in which state policies recognize, accommodate and legitimize immigrant cultures, and analyzes the extent to which state accommodation leads to acceptance and tolerance toward immigrants. The study brings together social psychological and institutionalist perspectives, and argues that state recognition and accommodation of immigrant cultures normalize new practices and traditions by making them a part of the country's cultural landscape. This state-led process blurs group lines, and reduces the likelihood of prejudice against immigrants. In contrast, when a state ignores or actively excludes an immigrant culture, it frames those associated with it as outsiders or lesser-citizens, and makes tolerance toward them less likely. To test that hypothesis, the study focuses on the Muslim immigrants in Western Europe, since their case involves a salient (real or perceived) cultural distance to the host societies. The study employs a mixed-methods research. It first examines the Belgian, British and German cases, and traces the process from state accommodation to tolerance with a special focus on the legitimization of cultural elements by state recognition. Then, it conducts a systematic analysis that covers nineteen countries in Western Europe. Individual-level data for the analysis come from the fourth wave of the European Values Study. On the country-level, the study builds what it calls the Accommodation of Islam (AOI) index to measure the extent to which Western European countries accommodate Islam in a variety of realms. Then, it specifies a multilevel regression model that controls for all major alternative explanations. On the individual level, the findings reveal multiple dimensions of religiosity that have divergent influences on anti-Muslim prejudice. On the country level, they indicate that the individuals in countries that do not accommodate Islam are more likely to be prejudiced against Muslims.

Document type: 
Thesis
File(s): 
Senior supervisor: 
Laurent Dobuzinskis
Department: 
Arts & Social Sciences:
Thesis type: 
(Thesis) Ph.D.

A comparative study of authoritarianism, perceived threat of terrorism, and anti-immigrant attitudes

Date created: 
2017-08-16
Abstract: 

Given the recent electoral success of populist political actors who promote anti-immigrant platforms and rhetoric based on the fear of terrorism, this study examines to what extent the threat of terrorism affects how individuals view immigrants. Existing research suggests that large-scale threats to national security, such as terrorism, can mobilize widespread support beyond the far-right for punitive or discriminatory policies toward groups or individuals associated with the threat. Literature on perceptions of threat suggest that an individual’s sensitivity and responsiveness to threat is based on cognitive traits that determine how one handles uncertainty and societal change. These cognitive traits are referred to as an individual’s level of authoritarianism. Using data from the World Values Survey, I find that individuals with higher levels of authoritarianism are more sensitive to the perceived threat of terrorism in Germany, Poland, and the US, while the reverse is possible in the Netherlands.

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

Streams of Oil and Barrels of Conflict: An MSF Analysis of Canadian Energy Policy since the Failure of the National Energy Program

Author: 
Abstract: 

Canadian policy on environmental protectionism has shifted under the Trudeau government, in line with signing onto the Paris Climate, breaking with the previous governments’ passivity towards climate change. However, the new Government’s stance appears muddled. Though Transmountain expansion was approved, Northern Gateway Pipeline was rejected. This policy change shows that the Trudeau government aims for a more environmental-economic balanced approach. I ask how this shift happened? I analyse Canadian energy policy from 1980-2015 using Kingdon’s multiple streams framework to demonstrate why previous governments have prioritised economic growth over environmental protectionism since the failure of the National Energy Program. There are two competing dialogues in Canadian energy policy: neoliberalism and securitisation. During the time-period analysed, neoliberalism has won over securitisation because economic growth was prioritised by stakeholders. As the effects of anthropogenic climate disruption becomes more concrete and irrefutable, new stakeholders have found their voice in the energy policy debate.

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

Modeling Canadian Federal Electoral Reforms

Author: 
Date created: 
2017-04-10
Abstract: 

This research project is focused on developing an exploratory model that can help explain the factors that affect the political desire for electoral reform. The model, premised on institutional and rational actor theories, develops a set of “endogenous” and “exogenous” factors that allow for evaluation of electoral reform discourse. While some attention is paid to the major reforms that the electoral system has undergone since Confederation, detailed analysis is reserved to the post-1980 period. Data was collected from party manifestos and Speeches from the Throne. Because the federal government has not made any structural changes to its electoral system, provincial and international electoral reforms are considered for the potential influence by “contagion”. Institutional barriers to reform are also factored into the model. Lastly, the model introduces the element of developing web-based technologies such as social media that are changing how the electorate is exerting its influence on the federal parties. From 1980 to 2015, what factors and influences, both endogenous and exogenous to Canada’s national political framework, have affected parliamentary debates on electoral reform?

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

The Neoliberal Biopolitics of Climate Security: Resilience and the European Union’s Securitization of Climate Change

Author: 
Date created: 
2016-12-22
Abstract: 

Contemporary understandings of resilience were initially developed in the discipline of ecology to theorize ecosystems’ capacities to absorb, adapt, and transform in the face of shocks and stresses. Since then, the concept of resilience has informed a versatile and highly mobile set of guiding principles that have migrated to numerous policy fields. In recent years, it has also been a partial yet increasingly powerful prism through which climate change has been constructed as a security threat. In this regard, some populations, mainly residing in the Global South, are deemed insufficiently resilient to the effects of climate change, thereby generating risks of societal disruption, state failure, and population displacement that may adversely affect the Global North. The critical resilience literature has argued that the rise of resilience-thinking is predicated on its intuitive resonance with a neoliberal injunction to be self-reliant. An examination of European Union (EU) institutions’ and agencies’ climate security discourse and practices corroborates this claim, while also generating novel insights into neoliberalism’s contemporary role in the social construction of threats. However, it also reveals the role of antecedent security discourses and practices – in particular human security, risk management, and the security-development nexus – in structuring climate threat discourse. Drawing from the Paris School of Security Studies and from Foucauldian writings on biopolitics, this project argues that the entanglement of resilience and climate security in EU discourse is a function of both antecedent biopolitical security practices, and distinctly neoliberal sensibilities. The EU’s securitization of climate change, in effect, transfers responsibility for managing the effects of climate change away from societies chiefly responsible for it, and onto people most burdened by it.

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

Valence Demystified: Nature, Sources and Consequences of Individuals' Valence Judgments of Political Parties

Date created: 
2016-09-21
Abstract: 

Although the concept of party valence figures in many studies of voting behavior, very few have measured it on the individual level, or investigated its sources in a variety of political contexts. This project addresses these deficiencies by assessing the extent to which individual valence assessments are affected by a number of long- and short-term factors. The former refer to the left–right policy distance between parties and respondents as well as their locations relative to the center of the left-right spectrum. The latter include media assessments of political parties prior to an election, as well as the state of the economy. Using data from the Comparative Study of Electoral Systems, this dissertation reveals a strong relationship between the long-term factors rooted in a person’s position relative to a party across a wide variety of political contexts. Despite the small number of available cases, some patterns of media influence on valence judgments have been detected. The state of the economy is shown to influence individuals’ valence assessments of political parties; this effect varies depending on the person’s position relative to the party. The final data chapter reveals a strong relationship between individuals’ valence judgments and their vote choice, thereby demonstrating the validity of the valence measure developed in this dissertation. Furthermore, the results show that one’s position relative to a party influences vote choice through shaping one’s valence judgments of that party (i.e., valence serves as a mediator variable between positional factors and vote choice). The dissertation concludes with a discussion of its research contributions into the literature on party valence, as well as possible future research projects that could be developed based on its findings.

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

Where Skeptics go to Party – EU-Positions of Factions in the European Parliament

Date created: 
2016-08-15
Abstract: 

Eurosceptic tendencies have gained more traction than ever before: The successful Brexit-campaign came as a surprise both to supporters and to opponents. An openly anti-EU-faction is the third largest in the European Parliament. It seems that eurocritical niche-parties are gaining in popularity all over Europe, while mainstream parties appear to be paralyzed from shock about it. Previous research suggests that mainstream-parties react to shifts in public opinion, while niche-parties’ positions are influenced by their supporters. My study adapts this theory, along with ideas of responsible parties versus responsive parties, and applies both to factions in the European Parliament. To do so I consider two kinds of representation. My research finds that neither mainstream-factions nor niche-factions are very responsive to the public or supporters on the issue of European integration. However, Euroskepticism has increased among European electorates in recent years, thereby widening the representation gap for mainstream parties and lessening it for niche parties. It remains unclear the extent to which Euroskeptic parties have played a key role in mobilizing anti-EU sentiments.

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

The Currency Transactions Tax: Opportunities and Opposition in the Post-Crisis Environment

Peer reviewed: 
No, item is not peer reviewed.
Date created: 
2016-04-15
Abstract: 

As speculation in foreign exchange (FOREX) markets has been linked to financial crises, a Currency Transactions Tax (CTT) has been proposed. But there is a gap in the literature: given its feasibility, why has one not been adopted? This paper analyzes why the United States, a country that could benefit and could bear a tax, has not adopted one. Though the 2007-08 Crisis was not caused by FOREX, it sparked interest in reforms including a CTT and the Financial Transactions Tax (FTT). This paper uses the garbage can model that assesses policy agenda-setting based on the convergence of problems that justify action, political agendas and turnover, and available policy solutions. Analyzing factors including the 2007-08 Crisis, commitments to other reforms, lobbying by the financial industry, and political turnover, this paper finds the failure of seven CTT/FTT bills mainly results from the lack of political receptivity.

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

Gender Bias Camouflage: Unmasking Political Ideology Differences in Gender Stereotyping with Brain Electrical Responses

Author: 
Date created: 
2016-04-15
Abstract: 

Recent research in Political Science and Psychology have uncovered how abstract sets of ideas, such as ideologies, can give rise to strong motivational forces. However, empirical work on identifying measurable psychological differences between ideologies has received less attention. The present study asks if our political ideologies exhibit measurable differences in response to our implicit reactions to gender, which can in turn impact public policy. To investigate this question, I utilized a mixed-methods approach that combines brain electrical activity recordings (Electroencephalography) and behavioral measures, together with surveys of political ideology, as participants engaged in a gender-stereotyping task. My study reveals how liberals and conservatives diverge when processing and responding to congruent and incongruent gender stereotypes. My findings suggest that when presented with a gender stereotype, liberals unlike conservatives are able to allot greater cognitive control mechanisms in order to restrain a stereotypical response.

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