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

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Organic limited: The corporate rise and spectacular change in the Canadian and American organic food sectors

Date created: 
2007
Abstract: 

The twentieth century saw the rise of industrial food production in North America. It is widely held that industrialized agriculture produces negative social and ecological effects. In response to the exploitive practices of industrialized agriculture, a number of counter-movements emerged in the mid-twentieth century, including the organic farming movement. The traditional principles and practices of organic agriculture presented an alternative form of food production, distribution and consumption that accounted for the social and ecological costs associated with feeding mass populations. Over the last twenty years however, the organic food sector has seen phenomenal growth and changes, that challenge organic’s status as a counter-movement. Food safety issues have emerged regarding the industrialized, globalized food system that have prompted concerned consumers to seek alternatives, contributing to organic food’s rapid market expansion. As a result of its remarkable market growth, new actors have entered the organic food sector and organic food is now part of policies and regulatory frameworks of many OECD countries. Changes in both the structure of the organic food sector and the actors involved in it have challenged organic’s standing as a counter-movement to the industrialized food system, and what it means for a food to be defined as ‘organic’. This thesis examines the changing political economy of the organic food sector in Canada and the US over the past twenty years. It looks at the corporatization of the organic food sector and the insertion of organic into various levels of governance, including national policy-making agendas and global trade agreements. As a result of these changes it is argued that organic has fundamentally moved away from its original status as a challenge to the status quo, and is now part of the global food regime that it once so adamantly opposed and sought to replace. By examining the pressures for changing the traditional social and ecological principles of the organic movement, it is shown that it has effectively shifted from a social movement to an advocacy network.

Document type: 
Thesis
File(s): 
Senior supervisor: 
M
Department: 
Dept. of Political Science - Simon Fraser University
Thesis type: 
Thesis (Ph.D.)

Energy security for Canada: A comparison of the self-sufficiency and continental strategies

Date created: 
2007
Abstract: 

While the topic of ‘energy security’ has attracted considerable public attention in recent times, the various issues of relevance have been poorly conceptualized within a policy framework for the Canadian people. Arguably, Canada has lacked an energy security strategy in recent years even as the country’s energy security environment has been rapidly changing. This study takes a strategic view of energy security in the sense that it treats the issue as a matter of national interest. Paradoxically, by relying on the analysis of sectoral developments over the last two decades, it is hypothesized that energy ‘self-sufficiency’ -- even if not impractical -- has severe and sobering implications for Canada’s intrinsic national interests. This study examines the long-standing chasm between the ‘continental’ and ‘self-sufficiency’ perspectives against updated criteria for assessing Canada’s current energy security situation.

Document type: 
Thesis
File(s): 
Senior supervisor: 
A
Department: 
Dept. of Political Science - Simon Fraser University
Thesis type: 
Thesis (M.A.)

Beyond belief? A historical institutional analysis of contemporary school reform in Nicaragua

Author: 
Date created: 
2007
Abstract: 

“School autonomy” began in Nicaragua in 1993 as a voluntary program, maintained through ministerial directive. In 2002, the newly passed New Law of Education Program extended ‘school autonomy’ to all public schools in the country. Essentially, the New Law introduces a new set of principles and rules for parental participation, local accountability, and local coordination in Nicaraguan schools. However, new rules and principles are nothing more than instructions that can be ignored- in fact, in Nicaragua, they often are. In this study, we problematize the one-to-one relationship between rules and behaviour that has been the cornerstone of contemporary change theorizing in the developing world. In contrast to the ‘change as rule-based’ perspective, we argue that a more effective approach is to study an actor’s motivation to follow the new rules. In this study, we suggest that an actor’s motivation to follow the rules is conditioned by their expectations about how others will behave in relation to those rules (behavioural beliefs). This attention to the relationship between rules, institutions, and behavioural beliefs represents a new way of studying change in the context of underdevelopment. We employ Avner Greif’s Historical Comparative Institutional Analysis (HCIA) to study school change in Nicaragua in order to demonstrate how stakeholders’ normative beliefs and behavioural beliefs condition their motivations towards the change initiative. By examining the evolution of these ‘normative beliefs and expectations’, we show how historical norms encapsulated in the country’s institutions, shape stakeholder responses to new initiatives, such as school autonomy. Our study reveals how change requires all aspects of the educational institution (its formal rules and organizations) to come together to perpetuate the new normative understandings associated with the new rules. However, in Nicaragua, our findings reveal that despite the introduction of new rules and principles for education, the organizations of education in Nicaragua have continued to perpetuate historical, normative understandings that are opposed to the norms of ‘school autonomy’ and the principles of good governance. Thus, the prospects and possibilities of change under the ‘school autonomy’ reform have been limited.

Document type: 
Thesis
File(s): 
Senior supervisor: 
A
Department: 
Dept. of Political Science - Simon Fraser University
Thesis type: 
Thesis (Ph.D.)

Post-Soviet political party development in Russia: Obstacles to democratic consolidation

Date created: 
2007
Abstract: 

The thesis examines the process of party system formation in the Russian Federation after the collapse of communism. The process of democratization in Russia, which began in 1991, involved a complex restructuring at the institutional, socio-political and even psychological levels. The establishment of political parties and their subsequent development in Russia has been a lengthy and complicated process. This thesis provides a chronological and analytical overview of the main stages of party system development, focusing on such factors and indicators as historical legacy, the State Duma elections, and evolving leadership. Party system development in post-Soviet Russia encountered a number of obstacles, and its future is dependent upon a variety of factors, which are examined in the last sections of the thesis. The conclusion of the thesis evaluates why political parties are weak in contemporary Russia, and attempts to predict the future role of parties in Russian political life.

Document type: 
Thesis
File(s): 
Senior supervisor: 
L
Department: 
Dept. of Political Science - Simon Fraser University
Thesis type: 
Thesis (M.A.)

The Likelihood of Canadian Bulk Water Exports - Breathing New Life into Staples Theory

Date created: 
2007
Abstract: 

Canada’s water sovereignty is increasingly threatened by the growing scarcity of this resource around the globe, particularly within the United States. This thesis explores the political and economic factors poised to drive future commodification and export of Canadian water resources. Despite federal opposition to water exportation, I illustrate how Canada may be forced to pursue this practice in the absence of drastic reforms to current federal water policy. Engaging staples theory, this thesis provides a comparative analysis of determinants driving early Canadian staples development with those encouraging bulk water exportation today. Early staples discourses are utilized to explore the likelihood of water exportation, while illustrating the utility of the staples approach to modern Canadian contexts. My research identifies several new factors an updated staples theory must consider in contemporary analyses of Canadian resource development, including, the modern environmental movement, the growth of international trade frameworks, and a decentralized Canadian federation.

Document type: 
Thesis
File(s): 
Senior supervisor: 
M
Department: 
Dept. of Political Science - Simon Fraser University
Thesis type: 
Thesis (M.A.)

Voting rights of the "marginal": The Japanese conception of political membership in comparative perspective

Author: 
Date created: 
2006
Abstract: 

The right to vote ultimately expresses political membership in democratic states. The logic behind franchise rules in a particular state tells us much about how that state conceives its polity. This becomes clear if we study voting rights of marginal groups, since these people often define boundaries of the polity in question. From this perspective, the present study investigates the logic of Japanese political membership by scrutinizing voting rights of overseas Japanese and non-citizen ethnic minorities inside Japan. Utilizing Elaine R. Thomas' analytical framework, the study identifies competing conceptions of political belonging expressed in Japanese debates about voting rights of the two marginal groups. My finding is that the Japanese conception of political membership is more complex than one would expect from the strong ethnic homogeneity of the Japanese community. This study also clarifies where Japan stands in relation to other states.

Document type: 
Thesis
File(s): 
Department: 
Department of Political Science - Simon Fraser University
Thesis type: 
Thesis (M.A.)

Patron-client ties and Maoist rural China

Date created: 
1997
Document type: 
Thesis
File(s): 
Department: 
Theses (Dept. of Political Science) / Simon Fraser University
Thesis type: 
Thesis (M.A.)

The role of the military in politics : Yugoslavia as a case study

Date created: 
1997
Document type: 
Thesis
File(s): 
Department: 
Theses (Dept. of Political Science) / Simon Fraser University
Thesis type: 
Thesis (M.A.)