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

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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: 
Peer reviewed: 
No, item is not peer reviewed.
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
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.

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.