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

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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.

Security/development in the neoliberal age: Responsibility to Protect (R2P) in the United Nation’s security/development dispositif

Author: 
Date created: 
2016-03-30
Abstract: 

The concept of ‘responsibility to protect’ (R2P) as a response to situations of violent conflict and insecurity, was first formally articulated by the International Commission on Intervention and State Sovereignty (ICISS) in 2001, and subsequently endorsed by the United Nations (UN) General Assembly through the Summit Outcome Document (SOD) in 2005. Since then, various UN agencies appear to have accepted R2P by incorporating aspects of the concept into their institutional and operational mandates. Literature on the subject places R2P in the security realm where it is either heralded as a ‘paradigm shift’ towards progressive humanitarianism or denounced as a mask for imperial militarism. My research expands this conversation by locating R2P in the historical context of the liberal/neoliberal ‘security/development dispositif’ which has informed the UN system’s policies and programs since its inception. Using Foucauldian genealogy, I analyze how/where R2P ‘fits’ within the UN’s historically evolving security/development discourses and practices with two related objectives. First, ‘map’ empirically R2P’s institutional and operational manifestations in the UN to gauge the degrees/forms of its incorporation. Second, assess critically whether R2P’s institutional manifestations represent a significant change in the way the UN has approached the relationship between security and development since 1945. To achieve this second objective, I use Foucauldian concepts of ‘dispositif’, ‘governmentality’ and ‘biopolitics’ to ‘make sense’ of the map by unpacking the meanings (ideational and normative) of R2P. A genealogical analysis of the evidence supplemented by interviews, supports my hypotheses to reveal not only R2P’s uneven and contested incorporation across UN agencies, but also how the liberal/neoliberal security/development dispositif as a discursive structure of knowledge and power privileges particular interpretations and applications of R2P’s ‘three pillars’ (responsibility to react, prevent and rebuild). R2P, then, is a discursive rearticulation; a more limited kind of change than a discursive shift, with the emphasis on ‘protection’ and ‘responsibility’ signifying both continuity and change in the evolving liberal/neoliberal security/development dispositif.

Document type: 
Thesis
File(s): 
Senior supervisor: 
James Busumtwi-Sam
Department: 
Arts & Social Sciences: Department of Political Science
Thesis type: 
(Thesis) Ph.D.

Men of little faith: The American Revolution as a rebellion against the Modern State (1765-1850)

Author: 
Date created: 
2015-12-18
Abstract: 

This dissertation explores the American political thought and development in the period 1765-1850. It is a study aimed at reinterpreting the American Revolution, both in terms of its temporal extent as well as its political and ideological sources and meaning. When it comes to temporal dimension the study claims that the Revolution did not end in 1783 or 1787 but continued for decades afterwards, and in terms of meaning it argues that the Revolution was not a process of gaining independence and creating a nation-state, but a process or resisting the multiple attempts at creating a centralized state in America. Revolutionary thought encompassed the patriots and antifederalists, included Jeffersonian writers and theorists in the early national period and Jacksonians in the 1830a and 1840s, to culminate with John C. Calhoun. What drove this Revolution was skepticism about both political consolidation of a nation state and economic policies of mercantilism that went hand in hand with it. It was both reactionary and liberal: reactionary in its resistance to modern state-building, and liberal in terms of its philosophy of rights and economic theory. The study deals with the two central motifs of revolutionary thought: political localism and economic liberalism. This duality is studied against the background of conventional theories which presuppose a political modernization in the form of a consolidated, centralized, enlightened state as necessary for the development of modern commerce. It is argued that a better model for understanding America is a “decoupled modernization” hypothesis. Within it economic and social modernity, most obviously expressed in a widespread acceptance of laissez-faire economic ideas, is seen as coinciding with a pre-modern localist political mindset, derived and strongly influenced by medieval principles and practices as well as by British common law. This study finds a counterintuitive combination of modern economic and social ideas and largely “antiquated,” anachronistic political theories in American early tradition. Free market economic theories were dominating the thought of American localists, from antifederalists, via Jeffersonian writhers to the champions of Jacksonian revolution, whereas their political thought transformed slowly so as do adapt to the realities of the nation state and to make peace with it, through the states’ rights philosophy

Document type: 
Thesis
File(s): 
Senior supervisor: 
Laurent Dobuzinskis
Department: 
Arts and Social Sciences: Political Science
Thesis type: 
(Dissertation) Ph.D.

Obama’s dualistic grand strategy in Asia: cooperative security and primacy

Peer reviewed: 
No, item is not peer reviewed.
Date created: 
2015-05-27
Abstract: 

This thesis examines the grand strategy behind U.S. President Barack Obama’s rebalance to Asia. Many scholars have argued that the rebalance does not constitute a grand strategy. This thesis argues that the rebalance is motivated by a grand strategy, one that combines cooperative security and primacy. The thesis explores what American actions have entailed in numerous military and non-military dimensions between 2009 and 2014. The central focus of America’s military, economic, and diplomatic initiatives in Asia is China and its potentially destabilizing role in the region. While there are a host of cooperative features in the rebalance, primacy is the primary motivator, as most of the military and non-military elements are aimed at the continuation of U.S. global leadership and the existing international order. The analysis reveals that the Obama administration’s policies in Asia have been relatively consistent throughout Obama’s presidency.

Document type: 
Thesis
File(s): 
Senior supervisor: 
Alexander Moens
Department: 
Arts & Social Sciences: Politcal Science
Thesis type: 
(Thesis) M.A.