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

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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.

The flipside of the world: Sound, sleep, and willful unbelonging among sailing cruisers

Author: 
Date created: 
2016-09-29
Abstract: 

Long-term cruisers spend years living and travelling on small or medium-sized sailboats. They balance individualized, flexible lives with ongoing responsibilities to their boat, crew, and a fluid cruising community. They defy mainstream ideals linked to biomedicine, self-help, and economic productivity. While cruisers sometimes mobilize neoliberal discourse, they do not adhere to its undergirding values. Their subjectivity is centered on willful unbelonging; cruisers’ choice of living away from mainstream society is a willfulness expressed by enjoying novelty and freedom that challenges the normative North American lifestyle. Enacting and reproducing the cruising identity is thus emblematic of willful unbelonging, a positive process of self-“marginalization”. This research illuminates the possibility that unbelonging, and by extension belonging, is not a condition or state of being, but rather an active process embodied in mundane behaviours and experiences, such as sleep, listening, and multi-sensory engagement with (non-human) sounds understood as discourse, voice and bodily sensation.

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

The Historical Development of Labour Standards

Author: 
Date created: 
2016-08-10
Abstract: 

This study was developed to examine the underlying nature of labour standards and to trace their development at the national, international and transnational levels over the course of almost two centuries. We try to provide an alternative account of the meaning of labour standards and to show how different social structures, historical events and social actions combined to frame their evolution across three geographical scales in ways far more complex, dynamic and contradictory than conventionally portrayed in the academic literature. The thesis attempts to trace the decades-long struggle for labour standards to their highest level of development in the 1970s, but it concludes, to emphasise their contradiction with the accumulation of capital, with a brief discussion of the neoliberal period when capital gained the upper hand in the class struggle and began to reverse what labour had won in the previous decades.

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