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

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Beyond the science of agricultural biotechnology corporate technology, law, and local control over food production

Date created: 
2007
Abstract: 

Within ten years of their adoption in the mid-1990s, new agricultural biotechnologies have instigated dramatic physical and proprietary changes to agriculture in both the United States and Canada. A growing number of highly contentious lawsuits between farmers and agricultural biotechnology companies indicate that such changes may be socially revolutionary to agricultural production. Building on political economy and food regime perspectives, this dissertation asks to what extent the proprietary aspects of these technologies are reorganizing production in these countries, and what effect, if any, such reorganization has on the amount of control producers have over agricultural production. The answer is derived through four case studies involving lawsuits over genetically modified seeds—two in Mississippi, United States, and two in Saskatchewan, Canada. Each of the two case study regions includes an analysis of court documents and interviews with 35-40 litigants and broader stakeholders. My findings indicate that while many producers feel the technology provides immediate benefits to their individual agricultural production, the social reorganization resulting from the existing legal framework is reducing producers’ control over their production process in many important ways, and suggest long-term concerns over such expropriation. This effect is more pronounced in Mississippi than in Saskatchewan. I argue that political economy of agriculture scholarship needs to be updated to incorporate this new legal element into its conceptual toolkit, which currently focuses on capital accumulation strategies in production and processing, not through legal mechanisms. Further, the case studies provide evidence that local acts of resistance, legal and otherwise, are having an impact on the nature and extent of the technology’s adoption in both regions. Therefore, the food regime perspective—a historical and geopolitical conceptualization of the advance of capitalism specific to food—needs to be re-conceptualized to adequately take into account the role of activities within nations, such as in the legal arena, and their effect on the shaping of the global food regime. I argue that the shape of this regime is contingent on contested features, and concerns over declining state autonomy in global agriculture need to be qualified accordingly.

Document type: 
Thesis
File(s): 
Supervisor(s): 
G
Department: 
Dept. of Sociology and Anthropology - Simon Fraser University
Thesis type: 
Thesis (Ph.D.)

“Living the dream”: the dialectics of being a Canadian student athlete in the United States

Author: 
Date created: 
2007
Abstract: 

Many young Canadian athletes seek athletic scholarships from universities and colleges in the United States that will enable them to become student athletes. Among parents, coaches, and children who are involved in Canadian youth sports, a commonly encountered discourse characterizes athletic scholarships as offering beneficial opportunities, including playing American intercollegiate sports, earning an education, and living abroad. From a young age, Canadian athletes witness this discourse and it becomes a part of their lived experiences, especially should they attain “the dream” of winning an athletic scholarship and going to the U.S. as a student athlete. Drawing on original ethnographic research conducted in Boston, MA and the surrounding area, this thesis critically examines what “living the dream” involves for some student athletes and considers the dialectical relationship between their actual experiences and the popular discourse that both shapes and is sometimes contradicted by the realities of these young Canadians’ lives.

Document type: 
Thesis
File(s): 
Supervisor(s): 
N
Department: 
Dept. of Sociology and Anthropology - Simon Fraser University
Thesis type: 
Thesis (M.A.)

Queer couples’ narratives of birthing: a B.C. focus on the intersections of identity, choice, resources, family, policy, medicalization, and health in the experiences of queers birthing

Author: 
Date created: 
2007
Abstract: 

This thesis focuses on the narratives of 10 queer couples’ birthing experiences in British Columbia. Not only does this thesis add to the continually growing anthropological interest in reproduction and kinship, but it also is able to reflect very practically on two recent changes in British Columbia: 1) the regulation of midwifery in 1998, and 2) the legal possibility of having two women named on their child’s birth certificate, since 2002. Three large themes arose from the research narratives: 1) the choices and experiences of having a ‘medical’ and/or ‘natural’ birth, 2) defining what ‘kinship’ and ‘family’ mean, and how roles and recognition are managed in a queer-parented family, and 3) how bureaucracies understand and deal with queer-parented families. In the end, this thesis provides an important and unique look at birthing and familial recognition in one of the most queer-friendly places in the world.

Document type: 
Thesis
File(s): 
Supervisor(s): 
S
Department: 
Dept. of Sociology and Anthropology - Simon Fraser University
Thesis type: 
Thesis (M.A.)

The irrelevance of "demarcationist" philosophies of science for the sociology of knowledge

Date created: 
1983
Abstract: 

Sociology of Knowledge is influenced by theories of philosophy which demarcate science from non science. It is argued furthermore that scientific enquiry can be divided into a context of justification and a context of discovery. Within the context of justification, notions such as “observation language”, “theory”, “ axiomatization” etc are sufficient to fully explain the results of scientific enquiry. The context of discovery includes human circumstances but these cannot contribute to the justification of science as a claim to knowledge. I argue that the arguments presented are crucially flawed and cannot serve to justify any principled demarcation or division of contexts. I argue that scientific knowledge may well be presented in an artificial language but this language cannot be demarcated from ordinary language. Scientific enquiry can be placed in a broader cognitive outlook supported by broader cultural practices and ordinary language.

Document type: 
Thesis
File(s): 
Supervisor(s): 
K
Department: 
Dept. of Sociology and Anthropology - Simon Fraser University
Thesis type: 
Thesis (M.A.)

Ordering conduct, conducting order : conduct disorder and the production of knowledge

Author: 
Peer reviewed: 
No, item is not peer reviewed.
Date created: 
1997
Document type: 
Thesis
File(s): 
Department: 
Theses (Dept. of Sociology and Anthropology) - / Simon Fraser University
Thesis type: 
Thesis (Ph.D.)