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

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Same-sex marriage in Canada and the theory of political-cultural formation

Author: 
Date created: 
2006
Abstract: 

On July 20,2005, Canada became the fourth country in the world to give samesex couples the legal right to marry. This thesis analyzes the mobilization that contributed to the historic event while assessing several social movement perspectives. It adopts the political-cultural-formation (PCF) perspective, which attempts to explain how civil society becomes consolidated vis-&-vis the state based on organizations of subordinate groups, communities, and classes. The lesbian and gay rights movement 11s often analyzed from the social movement perspective of resource mobilization theory, political opportunity structure, and new social movements, which each focus on important but partial dimensions. PCF was chosen because, by itself, it addresses cultural issues, state intervention, and organizational leadership that mediate betweein economic-structural processes anld political-cultural formation outcomes. Beyond describing and explaining the movement at hand, this thesis argues PCF provides a more comprehensive framework by answering questions that the other theories, by themselves, leave unanswered.

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

Virtually biosocial: IBD patienthood and community in cyberspace

Date created: 
2006
Abstract: 

This thesis describes how patients with Inflammatory Bowel Disease create moral order through participation in internet support groups. Drawing on computer-mediated ethnography and discursive analysis of interviews with patients, I argue that the discourse of 'shared experience' unites this diagnostically heterogeneous group into an idealized community. Patients describe their support practices in ways that suggest they are behaving both empirically and ethically. I then discuss how 'awareness,' as an ideal property of patienthood, shapes acceptable ways of being ill. My conclusion articulates the dilemmas faced by IBD patients-whose sense of normalcy is limited by their polluting and unpredictable symptoms-with theorizing on 'biosociality.' I suggest that the moral economy of online interaction, which involves exchanges of 'experience,' 'information,' and 'support,' generates sentiments of similarity and shared interest. This approach differs from much research on patient support groups, which takes patients' shared experiences as apriori rather than discursive constructions.

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

Long road home: Building reconciliation and trust in post-war Sierra Leone

Author: 
Date created: 
2006
Abstract: 

The 1991-2002 civil war in Sierra Leone raised the bar of cruel@ as high as an} war in recent memoq. Infamous for mass amputations and kidnapping and recruitment of children into armed forces, Sierra Leone should face severe obstacles to reconciliation between combatants and civilians or combatants from opposing sides. But this is not the case. Sierra Leoneans are strikinglj milling to saj the) forgive and will reconcile uith those responsible for ravaging their villages and their lives. Popular anger is hrected instead at top government officials even though their predecessors, not the). were responsible for the conuption and mismanagement that led to the rebellion. Until Sierra Leoneans see real change in governing practices, the most important fonn of national reconciliation in Sierra Leone, (re)establishing popular trust in the state, tvill be difficult to achleve. Th~s research explores the multiple meanings of reconciliation after mass atrocit), the roles of transitional institutions in promoting reconciliation, and barriers to deep reconciliation. Based on field research In Sierra Leone, including observations of Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) hearings. I argue that conciliatoq processes fall into two groups: those that must be evaluated on rational grounds and can be measured (described as 'coming together' or 'coming to agreement-) and those that can onlj be felt (described as 'trust,' 'healing' and 'coming to terms' with the past). Institutional efforts to promote reconciliation strive for measurable outcomes that are too often taken as proxies for deeper, sentient forms of reconciliation. With few organized processes besides the truth commission to promote dlalogue about the past. Sierra Leoneans often turn to religion or their own informal trust-building strategies to fill the gaps. Achieving sentient reconciliation requires more than addressing war-related crimes. Problematic social structures and tensions that contributed to the war must be understood so that post-war transitional processes can avoid replicating them. The Sierra Leone TRC showed that, given a mandate to investigate the broad contex? of war. truth commissions can assist reconciliation bj identiijing these social structures and tensions and thus provide essential information for effective transitional planning.

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

Navigating the Medical Marketplace: Consuming Ayurveda in Delhi

Author: 
Date created: 
2012-12-04
Abstract: 

This dissertation examines what is becoming of traditional medicine amongst the middle-class of Delhi following India’s transition to neoliberal market policies. My research, based on interviews, conversations, and participant observation conducted in 2004 and 2005-2007, is centred on the consumption of Ayurveda, a two thousand year indigenous medical system. Scholars who study indigenous medical and consumption tend to equate medications with medical system. However Ayurveda cannot be reduced to objects such as medications alone. Accordingly, I pursue what my urban middle-class interlocutors identified as “Ayurveda,” paying close attention to their therapeutic landscapes of health care. This medical practice is an extensive repertoire of knowledge enacted by a variety of informal and formal experts. I argue that consumption and health care practices cannot be suitably understood if one’s analysis is restricted to exchange in the formal market economy. I portray medical practice as an activity system rather than a mere assemblage of objects or technologies (p.508). I trace the materiality and relationships which enact Ayurveda across the spaces of the household, clinic, and expositions. The household is a site for consumption, which takes place along non-market pathways. Members use their domestic network to access various unofficial practitioners who provide medical resources such as remedies and knowledge. The clinic highlights treatment as a series of activities and verbal narratives. Even as the clinic becomes more marketised, informal repertoires of knowledge continue to be produced both by the patients and practitioners in their quest for health. The expositions foreground Ayurveda as a mass-produced and modern object while relying on tropes of nationhood and authenticity to lend authority to the practice so that it may benefit from the expanding health care market. The spaces I examine are not self-enclosed; rather they are points of convergence for the objects and relationships which propagate Ayurveda in India’s medical marketplace. My project highlights the continued relevance of multiple institutions consisting not only of the market but also the state, family, and neighbourhood in enacting formal and informal health care practices for consumption.

Document type: 
Thesis
File(s): 
Supervisor(s): 
Stacy Leigh Pigg
Department: 
Arts & Social Sciences: Department of Sociology and Anthropology
Thesis type: 
(Thesis) Ph.D.

Colombian and Mexican youth migration and acculturation experiences: the shaping of identities in Metropolitan Vancouver

Date created: 
2012-08-14
Abstract: 

This qualitative study explores the acculturation processes and the shaping of identities of 17 foreign-born Colombian and Mexican young adults living in Metropolitan Vancouver, aged 19 to 30 years. The research analyzed both participants’ acculturation processes in the education and employment spheres, and their related shaping of identities, mediated by their ethnicity and class locations. Using a mixture of subject-oriented oral histories and semi-structured interviews, the findings signal that participants shaped their identities based on oppositional but negotiable terms with a predominant Anglo-Canadian identity, as well as with a new developed Latino pan-ethnic identity, where class location played a significant role. Since Latin American immigrants constitute a young and rapidly growing visible minority group in Canada, and there is a few but growing literature focusing on this population, this research makes an important and timely contribution to our knowledge and understanding of youth, identities, and immigration in Canada.

Document type: 
Thesis
File(s): 
Supervisor(s): 
Gerardo Otero
Department: 
Arts & Social Sciences: Department of Sociology and Anthropology
Thesis type: 
(Thesis) M.A.

Halifax Street

Date created: 
2012-07-26
Abstract: 

This thesis is based upon a six-month long ethnographic study I conducted, which led to the production of Tom Quixote, a twenty-minute documentary film about Tom Crean, a Vancouver funeral director. It is about the role of collaboration in the making of the film, as well as the role of chance in leading me there. It is narrated chronologically to show how, step-by-step, Tom and I developed our relationship, how I was required to improvise in response to ethnographic refusal and the emergence of newly relevant literature, and to show when and why Tom and I encountered tensions. Despite our best efforts at developing, as George Marcus calls it, a “complicit” engagement, Tom and I eventually reached a point where our artistic visions clashed, and my vision was authorized over his. Ultimately, Tom and I were both extremely happy with the film and the results of the study, considering our collaboration a success, however the experience led me to reconsider and re-emphasize the significance of negotiation in collaborative ethnography.

Document type: 
Thesis
File(s): 
Supervisor(s): 
Dara Culhane
Department: 
Arts & Social Sciences: Department of Sociology and Anthropology
Thesis type: 
(Thesis) M.A.

In search of the Promised Land: the role of religion and spirituality in the lives of transnational Israeli migrants in Greater Vancouver

Author: 
Date created: 
2012-04-10
Abstract: 

Studies of religious activities of immigrants in Western society have usually focused on their experiences in religious institutions. This ethnographic exploratory study is based on detailed interviews with eleven Israeli immigrants residing in Greater Vancouver who speak about their religious and spiritual experiences both inside and outside of institutional religion. The aim of this study is to examine the various religious and spiritual activities of these immigrants as well as the role these play in their lives. The findings suggest that most study participants appear to engage in these practices for reasons that involve but also transcend religion and are related to their Israeli identity. Being transnational migrants, the Israeli interviewees also use their spiritual and religious practices as means to construct their transnational identities. This study suggests that religious and spiritual activities of transnational migrants should be examined in the context of their relationships with their homeland.

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

Invisible and undervalued: Understanding the work experiences of women clerical workers in a British Columbia Cancer Centre

Date created: 
2012-03-16
Abstract: 

The purpose of this qualitative study is to understand the experiences of oncology support staff through an examination of workplace organization, patient and team relationships, and emotional impact. In-depth interviews were conducted with seven medical secretaries and five nursing unit clerks. A critical-interpretive feminist lens is adopted to facilitate focus on subjective perceptions and meanings of these work experiences. This approach allows exploration of how social identities in particular workplace settings are shaped by gender, social class, ethnocultural background, age, sex, (dis) ability, and geography. It also directs our attention to dominant discourses and inequities in the workplace that render women’s work invisible and undervalued. Indeed, key findings identify issues of powerlessness, lack of control and decision-making, self-reported stress and burnout, and the perception that the work performed is not recognized or valued. Implications for managers and those working with support staff in oncology settings are briefly highlighted.

Document type: 
Thesis
File(s): 
Supervisor(s): 
Barbara Mitchell
Department: 
Arts & Social Sciences: Department of Sociology and Anthropology
Thesis type: 
(Thesis) M.A.

The perceptions of intergenerational conflict among Chinese immigrant families in British Columbia

Author: 
Peer reviewed: 
No, item is not peer reviewed.
Date created: 
2011-12-09
Abstract: 

This study critically examines parental perceptions of intergenerational conflict and explores coping strategies using a mixed methods approach. It specifically focuses on Chinese immigrant families with young adult children aged 18 to 35 years old. Intergenerational conflict is defined as the frequency, the degree, and the severity of problems or arguments experienced within parent-child relationships. Studies have found that problematic intergenerational conflicts are associated with negative consequences and that immigrant families are especially vulnerable (Uba, 1994; Wu & Chao, 2005). Since British Columbia is now home to 30% of Canada’s total immigrants from China, Taiwan and Hong Kong (Statistics Canada, 2006), it is essential to explore the social factors contributing to, and buffering against, intergenerational conflict within these families. Results will be valuable in identifying the most vulnerable families, and in recommending resources (e.g., educational and community programs) that can both prevent and reduce intergenerational conflict.

Document type: 
Thesis
File(s): 
Supervisor(s): 
Barbara Mitchell
Department: 
Arts & Social Sciences: Department of Sociology and Anthropology
Thesis type: 
(Thesis) M.A.

From seeds to syndicates: explorations in collective actions for food sovereignty and resiliency in Guatemala

Author: 
Peer reviewed: 
No, item is not peer reviewed.
Date created: 
2011-10-25
Abstract: 

In the face of rising environmental and food insecurities, communities across the globe are increasingly organizing to regain control of agro-ecological systems. This thesis explores these struggles in the context of highland Guatemala, examining food/seed sovereignty and permaculture movements and the lived experiences of rural women, farmers and grassroots environmental collectives. First, this thesis explores the historical erosion of local seed sovereignty, women’s current roles in the food sovereignty movement and the gendered implications of both of these processes. Second, this thesis explores how grassroots collectives are drawing from permaculture’s principles to creatively address agricultural and environmental vulnerabilities through horizontal organizational frameworks. This thesis posits that the food sovereignty and permaculture movements not only offer promising approaches for agricultural production and environmental stewardship, but they also provide valuable insights into the process of promoting local self-determination, democratization, gender equality and resiliency within and beyond local movements.

Document type: 
Thesis
File(s): 
Supervisor(s): 
Hannah Wittman
Department: 
Arts & Social Sciences: Department of Sociology and Anthropology
Thesis type: 
(Thesis) M.A.