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

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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No, item is not peer reviewed.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.

The effect of interest groups on poliheuristic decision making: the case of the Keystone XL pipeline

Date created: 
2015-06-23
Abstract: 

Poliheuristic (PH) decision making theory has been developed to bridge rational choice and cognitive based theories of foreign policy decision making. PH theory asserts that decisions are made in two stages. In the first stage, decision makers act based on simplified decision strategies, or cognitive heuristics which seek to constrain the decision alternatives. In the second stage, the decision maker weighs the alternatives and selects the one which maximizes utility, according to the rational actor framework. Using the case of the Keystone XL pipeline and President Barack Obama’s indecision on it, it is my aim to assess whether PH theory can explain Obama’s postponement of a decision on the pipeline and how interest groups effect decision making in the first stage of PH theory. I conclude that interest groups primarily influence PH decisions by making certain alternatives politically too costly, framing issues in certain ways, and by increasing the salience of an issue to both the public and the decision maker. In addition, I find that PH theory is able to explain Obama’s decision making on the Keystone XL issue.

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

Money or loyalty? The effect of inconsistent information shortcuts on voting defection

Author: 
Date created: 
2015-08-07
Abstract: 

Despite the vast research on the effects of information shortcuts on voters, little is known about how citizens make voting decisions when the information shortcuts they rely on prod them to favor different candidates or parties. This research focuses on partisanship and economic evaluations and asks whether and how the inconsistency between them affects voting defection—the act of voting contrary to party affiliation. By analyzing the 2010 British General Election and the 2012 American Presidential Election, this paper finds that the inconsistency only leads to defection among politically sophisticated voters. And this paper argues it is because partisanship is used to reduce the uncertainty of voting decisions. As politically sophisticated voters have lower level of uncertainty, they are less likely to resort to partisanship. There are two implications of this finding: 1) relationships between information shortcuts can affect voting decisions; 2) uninformed voters sometimes do not act like they are well-informed.

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.

Building the Good Fire Department; Practical Preparedness and Agenda Setting for Biological Weapons Release

Date created: 
2015-08-14
Abstract: 

The grouping of chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear and explosive (CBRNE) events is common in response planning literature, and yet from an emergency management perspective, responding to biological events is very unlike responding to the others. A sizable biological weapons response effort would be a singularly formidable emergency planning challenge. With the distinct characteristics of the biological weapons problem, and in the face of both transmissibility and the psychological trauma associated with disease, the perceived threat level matters little as long as a threat exists. Yet despite the formidable inherent threat, bio-preparedness policy has been absent from emergency preparedness planning. As such, this work will provide a critical analysis of the consistent failures of previous response policy efforts, and base analysis for renewal of the bio-preparedness discussion on agenda setting practices as established by John W. Kingdon. Finally, inter-disciplinary best-practice planning strategies will inform a comprehensive discussion on bio-specific response planning.

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

Is a picture worth a thousand votes?: aesthetic representation and democratic ideals

Date created: 
2014-11-18
Abstract: 

Contemporary approaches to political representation tend to prioritize empirical observations of established institutions. These contributions to contemporary political theory can be complemented by the work of historian Frank Ankersmit. Ankersmit proposes an aesthetic view of political representation that raises questions about the understanding of subjectivity in political representation. I argue that, by drawing upon notions of aesthetic judgment, Ankersmit suggests possibilities for conceptualizing political art within political representation. In this way, theories of representation can be developed to include a greater selection of forms of non-democratic representation as observed in the field.

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

Migration Choice as a Determinant of Remittance Behaviour in Canada

Author: 
Date created: 
2014-12-18
Abstract: 

Immigrant remittances are an important force in developing economies, but these transfers of money also play a role in indicating economic and social attachment of migrants to both origin and destination country. This project examines the determinants of migrant remittances from Canada to 129 countries of origin. After reviewing previous Canadian literature, it hypothesizes that differences in migrant origin through forced and unforced movement (i.e. economic and refugee categories as defined in Canada) are a significant determinant. Modeled alongside are indicators of the origin countries’ economic strength and overall dependency on these flows, as well as indicators for the origin group in Canada such as average earnings and linguistic distance. The analysis finds a negative relationship between remittances and the proportion of refugees in a group, while also finding positive relationships with origin country per capita income, the proportion of that country’s GDP made up by remittances and language distance from Canadian languages. The analysis indicates that forcibly displaced migrants show clear differences in their ability to remit from voluntary migrants. The importance of these findings is in their implications for both general immigration policies and development strategies in general.

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

Understanding trade union influence on social democratic party policy: an examination of the Australian and British cases.

Author: 
Date created: 
2014-12-15
Abstract: 

This project explores the relationship between trade unions and social democratic parties. Its primary purpose is to examine how the union-social democratic party relationship drives party policy choice while the party is in government. The project proceeds under the frame that the union-social democratic party linkage is best characterized as an exchange relationship between rational actors. I hypothesize that the more unions are able to provide electoral advantage to the social democratic party, the more that party's industrial relations policy will be favourable to unions. This hypothesis is explored through a comparative case study method. The cases selected are that of the Australian Labor Party’s period in government 2007-2013, and the British Labour Party’s period in government 1997-2010. The project’s analysis of these cases provides some support for the hypothesis, while also demonstrating the need for further research across a larger number of cases to provide a rigorous test of the hypothesis and better understanding of the underlying dynamics.

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

Leveraging Information as Power: America’s Pursuit of Cyber Security

Author: 
Date created: 
2014-11-28
Abstract: 

Acquiring and exploiting information is key to remaining competitive in cyberspace. Security seesaws between informational advantage and vulnerability and America, as all other cyber-powers, must consistently tip the seesaw towards the former. Optimally managing the short term vulnerabilities of a cyber advantage will best produce a long-term net gain in security for the US. The Internet’s lax architecture favours offensive over defensive information seeking. Finding and buying zero-days supplements America’s security innovations to maintain a deployable cyber arsenal. Cyber deterrence is problematic so America relies on resilience to manage cyber attacks. Defence through attack absorption offers a better strategy than deterrence per se. Strategically sharing capabilities enables the United States to influence Five Eyes intelligence priorities while enabling its global cyber operations. Amassing an information advantage thus enables America to leverage information as power to enhance its net security posture.

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

Understanding the Dynamics of Political Dysfunction: A Comparative Analysis of Legislatures in Canada and the United States

Date created: 
2014-12-02
Abstract: 

This paper examines the primary categories of dysfunction in the Canadian and American legislatures. The central purpose of this comparative analysis is to explore the range of phenomena associated with legislative dysfunction in both the Canadian Parliament and the United States Congress. The Canadian and American cases are compared for the insights that two different institutional settings and political cultures can provide into the emergence of an interplay among dimensions of dysfunction. My intention is to fill the void of thorough literature on this subject, most specifically in Canada, by categorizing the wide scope of sources of legislative dysfunction into three main classifications - Institutional, Ideological, and Sociological. Two central findings emerge from the analysis. First, the differentiation of institutional mechanisms and legislative processes between Canada and the United States produces distinct sources of national-level legislative dysfunction. Second, despite these institutional differences, the two nations largely share ideological and sociological sources of dysfunction. Evidence from the literature suggests that despite utilizing two distinct systems of government, the two countries exhibit some noteworthy similarities in this regard. The analysis will make use of many sub-variables and contemporary issues that are present in the legislatures in order to illustrate the extent to which dysfunction persists. After providing background and justification for these three main categories, I examine how they interact, and their effect on the functionality of the legislatures in both nations.

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

Understanding the tension between Arctic environmental protection and the Canadian government's approach to offshore oil and gas development

Date created: 
2014-08-19
Abstract: 

The balance between resource development and environmental protection has always been a difficult one. Nowhere is this more true than in the Arctic, a vital ecosystem whose future is at the forefront of climate change. While Canada has committed itself to Ecosystem-Based Management (EBM) as the system through which the state will manage and protect its fragile northern land and seascapes, the extent to which this commitment is upheld by the current federal government is unknown. This research project will establish that Canada has only developed and incorporated its EBM system, within its framework for offshore oil and gas development, to a minimal extent. Such a baseline will be established through the assessment of relevant Canadian legislation and regulations along the North Pacific Marine Science Organization’s (PICES’s) typology on EBM. Environmental, political and economic variables at play in the Arctic will also be considered to reveal the Conservative government’s active efforts to prepare, as well as facilitate, the future development of resource projects in the North. Accordingly, this research project will shed further light on the inherent tension that lies at the heart of resource development and environmental protection.

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