Sociology and Anthropology - Theses, Dissertations, and other Required Graduate Degree Essays

Receive updates for this collection

"We used to be kings of the road": Negotiations of ethics, embodiment, and subjectivity in the BC-based long haul trucking industry

Author: 
Date created: 
2017-10-26
Abstract: 

This dissertation provides a locally specific exploration of how normative gender dynamics and local occupational cultures interact with neoliberal regimes to (re)produce industrial hierarchies of inequality, exploitation, and blame. I extend research linking the neoliberalisation of the trucking industry to declining wages and working conditions to consider how these changes interact with the historically and culturally specific ethical formations, subjectivity negotiations, and everyday work practices of British Columbia-based long haul truckers. I argue that a locally and historically specific manifestation of normative masculinity – and the racialising processes it presupposes and (re)produces – plays a crucial role in these interactions. This ‘old school’ white working class masculinity is complexly articulated in relation to the neoliberalisation of the industry, and especially in regards to gendered and racialised politics of skills, stigma, and blame. I found that these articulations bolster white supremacist tendencies, particularly with regard to South Asian truckers, and have complex implications for gender inequality. I further contend that these dynamics emerge out of and are imbricated in the power dynamics of Canadian (neo)colonial automobility. The differential politics of skills, stigma, and blame evident in my research encounters contribute to the denial and invisibilisation of road carnage and industrial risk that has been entrenched through neoliberal shifts in automobility and the trucking industry. This research is based on my ethnography of the British Columbia-based long haul trucking industry. Data were generated through qualitative interviews with current and former truck drivers; participant observation and observant participation at truck stops, weigh scales, and industry-associated sites; recording VHF radio communications; and ride-alongs with truckers. Truckers in my study placed especial moral weight on practices of skilled and safe driving, on maintaining civilised practices of cleanliness and excretion, and on stopping to assist other truckers and motorists in need of help – which often meant engaging in collision and carnage labour at crash scenes. In this study, I examine how deregulation and the neoliberalisation of the industry have impacted truckers’ capacities to engage in each of these work practices, and the implications of those shifts for truckers’ gendered, classed, and racialised ethical alignments and subjectivity negotiations.

Document type: 
Thesis
File(s): 
Senior supervisor: 
Jane Pulkingham
Department: 
Arts & Social Sciences: Department of Sociology and Anthropology
Thesis type: 
(Thesis) Ph.D.

Marriage migrants: American women navigating immigration and intercultural marriage

Date created: 
2017-12-07
Abstract: 

Based on eight semi-structured interviews from June 2016 with American women married to German spouses and living as immigrants in the state of Baden-Württemberg, Germany, the aim of this study is uncover how this group experiences immigration and integration. Taking a feminist perspective and grounded within standpoint theory, I argue that the combinations of their American citizenship, gender, position within intercultural marriage and immigration status, creates a unique immigration and integration experience for this group in Germany. Findings reveal the following intricacies within intercultural marriages, the challenges that female immigrants and mothers face, the importance of language in integration, the role that American citizenship plays in immigration and the emotional struggle to find a sense of belonging as immigrant newcomers.

Document type: 
Thesis
File(s): 
Senior supervisor: 
Karl Froschauer
Department: 
Arts & Social Sciences: Department of Sociology and Anthropology
Thesis type: 
(Thesis) M.A.

Parenthood, childhood and organized youth sport in rural and small-town British Columbia: An ethnographic study

Date created: 
2017-10-27
Abstract: 

This thesis explores how parenthood and childhood are enacted within the context of organized youth sport in one rural and small-town British Columbian region. Studies of organized youth sport, childhood, and parenthood have primarily emphasized the experiences of (sub)urban dwellers. This has resulted in a dearth of knowledge on the spatialized processes which inform experiences of organized youth sport in rural and small towns. This ethnographic exploratory study was conducted between 2012 and 2015 in the British Columbian rural and small-town region of the West Kootenays. It draws on fieldnotes, open-ended interviews, and participant observation to capture the lived experiences of over a hundred young people, parents, and sport administrators. By utilizing a place-based, life course perspective, this study reveals the historical, structural, and spatial fluidity of concepts such as parenthood, childhood, and organized sport. A central finding in this study is that while principles of modern parenting and childhood are now part of the dominant cultural narrative, children and parents enact this narrative in conflicting and nuanced ways. Four spatialized patterns of child-rearing vis-à-vis sport emerged: (1) pursuing the dream of sporting success, (2) making organized youth sport work, (3) opting out of organized youth sport, and (4) being pushed out of organized youth sport. Parents’ and children’s relationship to place, access to resources, and commitment to varying narratives and discourses on childhood and parenthood were found to drive child-rearing practices. Overall, this study showcases the agency of rural residents and draws attention to the futility of representing rural people as solely “passive recipients” of hegemonic culture. It also draws attention to the importance of including young people alongside adults in research about their lives. Finally, this study encourages government policy-makers and community-level stakeholders in organized youth sport to take a place-based approach to the delivery of programs.

Document type: 
Thesis
File(s): 
Senior supervisor: 
Barbara Mitchell
Department: 
Arts & Social Sciences: Department of Sociology and Anthropology
Thesis type: 
(Thesis) Ph.D.

A place to be, a place to become: An insiders report on youth integration programs in the lower mainland

Date created: 
2017-06-06
Abstract: 

Immigrant youth face a myriad of complex and interrelated challenges during their settlement and integration into Canadian society. In Canada, there are a number settlement services available to support this process. In the past, these services have focused on adults; however, they are increasingly responding to the needs of youth. Youth integration programs, in particular, represent one of the most common settlement services available to immigrant youth, yet little research has been conducted on such programs and even less from the perspective of the participants. This qualitative study explores the role of youth integration programs in the lives of twelve young newcomers through in-depth semi-structured interviews and focus groups. My findings reveal that such programs represent a powerful resource for newcomers, with participants describing these programs as spaces where they can develop meaningful relationships, strengthening their communication skills, and improve their overall sense of self. This research confirms, challenges, and extends earlier research on this topic, while also demonstrating the importance of engaging with the subjective experiences of newcomers.

Document type: 
Thesis
File(s): 
Senior supervisor: 
Wendy Chan
Department: 
Arts & Social Sciences: Department of Sociology and Anthropology
Thesis type: 
(Thesis) M.A.

Spaces of negotiation: Community, governance, and pacification in Rio de Janeiro

Date created: 
2017-08-03
Abstract: 

Brazil’s enactment of the pacification program in 2008 marked the state’s ostensible attempt to integrate the informal favelas of Rio de Janeiro into the formal frameworks of the city. For residents of favelas where the pacification program has been implemented, the processes associated with the program have been marked by violence, uncertainty, and disconnection. This thesis employs spatial theory in combination with ethnographic research to explore how pacification has come to be experienced in the favela of Vidigal. The materiality of space has become a critical nexus in the dialectical relationship between community residents and the Brazilian state. I argue that the pacification program in Vidigal is now primarily a spatial practice; the policies and practices associated with pacification in Vidigal seek to manipulate the use of space, and the residents of Vidigal now largely experience the effects of pacification through the spaces of their community.

Document type: 
Thesis
File(s): 
Senior supervisor: 
Kathleen Millar
Department: 
Arts & Social Sciences: Department of Sociology and Anthropology
Thesis type: 
(Thesis) M.A.

Bodies in water: Embodiment, social worlds, and fluid motion in competitive age-group swim clubs

Author: 
Date created: 
2017-07-17
Abstract: 

This thesis undertakes an anthropological examination of the everyday sport practices of boys and girls who belong to swim clubs in the Lower Mainland of British Columbia. Specifically, it considers how the social worlds of swimmers can be understood as complex forms of community and the ways in which and swim clubs represent more than a sport. It examines how boys and girls come to understand and use their bodies in the water, and how, through the processes of training and play, they come to acquire embodied knowledge's of swimming and motion in the water. Finally, it argues that by training together and yet competing separately, boys and girls experience gender as a subtle but salient marker amongst and between young athletes enrolled in swim clubs.

Document type: 
Thesis
File(s): 
Senior supervisor: 
Noel Dyck
Department: 
Arts & Social Sciences: Department of Sociology and Anthropology
Thesis type: 
(Thesis) M.A.

Making the Breast Cancer Gene: An Archaeology of the Translational Clinic

Author: 
Date created: 
2017-05-16
Abstract: 

Between 1994 and 1995, the discovery of two gene mutations—BRCA1 and BRCA2, combined with a genetic test, led to the creation of a clinical practice centered on diagnosing and managing genetic risk for breast cancer. The discovery of the BRCA genes is framed as a model of how genetic knowledge and technologies can be swiftly “translated” into improved health outcomes for patients, despite the fact that the role of genes in common diseases has come under scrutiny following the completion of the Human Genome Project in 2003. Examining what Michel Foucault terms as the “conditions of emergence” for a genetic theory of breast cancer, this project employs close textual analysis of newspapers, press releases, and scientific research articles to critically examine the link between the discovery of the BRCA genes and translational research. Tracing the shifting relationship between genes and cancer this project explores the impact of public criticisms on post-genomic research, describing emergent research norms, values, and epistemic commitments for translational actors, including scientists and patient advocacy groups.

Document type: 
Thesis
File(s): 
Senior supervisor: 
Cindy Patton
Department: 
Arts & Social Sciences: Department of Sociology and Anthropology
Thesis type: 
(Thesis) M.A.

Women, methadone, and the politics of supervised exclusion

Author: 
Date created: 
2017-03-27
Abstract: 

This study examines women’s participation in methadone maintenance treatment (MMT) in British Columbia, Canada and concerns the intersections of addiction trajectories, clientization, and social exclusion. Drawing on life stories, physician interviews, and analysis of MMT (documentary) texts, the study explores how women experience MMT and other services in their efforts to improve life chances and social circumstances. Clientization in this case hinges on complex meanings of the body and care and can involve contestation of knowledge at various service sites. Five women’s life stories, told from the vantage point of their mid-adult years, confront the normative progress story that MMT involvement suggests and illustrate how participants actively navigated program demands and service relationships, as well as challenged moralizing and individualizing notions of the woman MMT client. Physician perspectives and MMT texts show narrow understandings of the woman methadone client and reveal the glaring need for broader supports for women experiencing drug use troubles. I develop the term “supervised exclusion” to show how medical subjectivity in this case minimally alleviates the participants’ experiences of social marginalization and complicates their economic and political marginalization. I argue that supervised exclusion is the intertwined process of “supervision” and “exclusion,” and MMT as a supervised treatment asserts a contradictory care and control element which additionally disempowers women who have few resources due to their long-term social, economic, and political exclusion. Women’s marginality persists in this context because although they actively challenge policies and discrimination at the level of MMT and broader service provision, they cannot dismantle such a complex problematizing of their lives without far more resources and political power.

Document type: 
Thesis
File(s): 
Senior supervisor: 
Jane Pulkingham
Department: 
Arts & Social Sciences: Department of Sociology and Anthropology
Thesis type: 
(Thesis) Ph.D.

The Ambiguity of Resistance: Civil Society Engagements with Neoliberalism

Date created: 
2017-02-24
Abstract: 

Resistances to neoliberal capitalism primarily occur within the realm of civil society today. There are varying theories that speak to the ability of such resistances. On the one hand, a theory of neoliberal ontology posits an inescapable structure that delimits our capacity to effectively resist. On the other hand, a theory of intentional economy asserts an ability to contest and transform dominant structures. Through a qualitative semi-ethnographic extended-case study conducted with two para-capitalist organizations operating within southern British Columbia, this thesis examines and nuances notions of resistance via a Polanyian and Marxist theoretical framework, and advances an argument for a theory of the ‘politics of ambiguity’. This captures the simultaneous positionings of resistance groups within a neoliberal ontology and intentional economy form. As determined, these groups necessarily demonstrate ambiguity to varying degrees, on the one hand reproducing neoliberal paradigms and structures, while concurrently working to forge emancipatory realities and understandings.

Document type: 
Thesis
File(s): 
Senior supervisor: 
Yıldız Atasoy
Department: 
Arts & Social Sciences: Department of Sociology and Anthropology
Thesis type: 
(Thesis) M.A.

Temporary Foreign Workers in British Columbia: Unfree Labour and the Rise of Unscrupulous Recruitment Practices

Date created: 
2016-10-25
Abstract: 

The political and economic processes of neoliberalization have led to the intensification of worker exploitation. In Canada, Temporary Foreign Workers (TFWs) who enter through the Low-waged Streams of the Temporary Foreign Worker Program (TFWP) are amongst the most vulnerable to abuse and exploitation. This thesis uses theories on unfree labour, state transformation, and anti-racism, along with data generated through qualitative research, to examine the state legislated exploitation of TFWs in British Columbia. I argue that the unscrupulous recruitment of TFWs into British Columbia is the functional process through which labour flexibility and unfreedom is achieved within the larger project of neoliberalization. I conclude by considering how regulatory reform of labour markets can be used in conjunction with anti-racist and anti-imperialist political demands that aim to challenge the functional processes of neoliberalization.

Document type: 
Thesis
File(s): 
Senior supervisor: 
Kendra Strauss
Department: 
Arts & Social Sciences: Department of Sociology and Anthropology
Thesis type: 
(Thesis) M.A.