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

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Volunteers on the threshold: Fragile opportunities and fractured selves

Date created: 
2016-08-08
Abstract: 

In recent years, ‘Volunteer Tourism’ and experiential education have become popular ways to experience international development. Over 65,000 Canadians have volunteered on development projects that espouse a shared commitment to global poverty reduction and personal adventure. Hence, volunteer tourism has become a topic of extensive scholarly buzz. However, contrary to the literature’s static depiction of the volunteer tourist as apolitical, unknowing, and defined only by self-less or self-centered motivations, I found volunteer selves to be fluid, fractured, and fragile with their acts of care bordered by uncertainty. Centrally, this research considers the indeterminate and uncertain space where students and volunteers make and unmake their selves in order to find a sense of worth and belonging. By illuminating the socio-economic and discursive matrices that shape volunteer selves, this thesis suggests that volunteer lives, beyond their intentions, remain hidden and unnoticed—their unpaid labour exists on the cusp of visibility.

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

A Comparative-Historical Sociology of Secularisation: Republican State Building in France (1875-1905) and Turkey (1908-1938)

Author: 
Date created: 
2016-03-11
Abstract: 

This dissertation features a comparative-historical examination of macrosocietal secularisation in France (1875-1905) and Turkey (1908-1938), with particular attention to their republican state building experiences. Bridging the literatures on secularisation theory (sociology of religion) and state formation (comparative-historical sociology), it is the purpose of this work to contribute to “historicising the secularisation debate” by scrutinising the “sociopolitical conflicts” involved in the making of macro-level secularisation (Gorski, 2003b, 2005). The existing literature often interprets different patterns of secularisation through voluntaristic perspectives (overemphasising the ideologies/beliefs of rulers and individuals) or deterministic lenses (anticipating civilisational or modernist path dependencies). To overcome the duality, this study provides a comparative-historical approach that investigates secularisation as a non-linear, uneven, and dialectical process contingent upon the course of sociopolitical struggles and structural transformations Differing from many other national states, why did France and Turkey converge to embrace secularism as a central principle and doctrine, based on an accentuated form of “separation” from and “regulation” of religion? What accounts for their divergence, that is, why did the “separation” aspect prove more dominant in French laïcité, whereas “regulation” came to be prominent in Turkish laiklik? Resting on a rich array of archival and bibliographical sources, my analysis proposes to explain the convergence and divergence between France and Turkey through the interaction of “extra-religious” and “religious” sets of variables. The former set takes into account geographically specific class struggles/alliances, and dynamics of internal/external sovereign state building. The latter set explores the doctrinal/institutional configuration of dominant religions, and the situation of religious minorities. Highlighting the interplay of these “extra-religious” and “religious” dynamics, the dissertation offers an analytical framework to contribute to the social scientific understanding of secularisation/desecularisation beyond the French and Turkish cases. The highly contentious histories of France and Turkey reveal that secularisation is not merely about the conflict of ideational visions. Secularisation is also a concrete state building strategy operationalised through a combination of “separation” and “regulation”. As part of the struggle against religiously affiliated/legitimated sociopolitical contenders, these dual strategies are utilised by bourgeois-national state builders to bring about “differentiation”, “societalisation”, and “rationalisation” (Wallis & Bruce, 1992). While the strategy of separation “differentiates” (and transfers to the state) diverse social functions previously assumed by “religious authority” (Chaves, 1994), the latter’s remaining prerogatives are placed under the regulation of “societally” and “rationally” organised secular-bureaucratic institutions. In this sense, secularisation is intimately linked to the consolidation of sovereign infrastructural power (Mann, 1984; Soifer, 2008) in “legal-institutional”, “socio-educational”, “symbolic-ideological”, and “property-distributional” spheres. France and Turkey allow for a cross-religious and cross-regional comparison to crystallise the national and extra-national social forces and mechanisms that influence the ebbs and flows in the secularising process.

Document type: 
Thesis
File(s): 
Supervisor(s): 
Gary Teeple
Patrick Weil
Department: 
Arts & Social Sciences: Department of Sociology and Anthropology
Thesis type: 
(Dissertation) Ph.D.

Dressing up Ahlak: A reading of sexual morality in Turkey

Author: 
Date created: 
2015-12-03
Abstract: 

This dissertation analyzes sexual morality discourse through a reading of dressed female bodies in Turkey. It explores how sexual morality (ahlak) is shaped by Islamist and secularist discourses in Turkey and the ways in which ahlak (morality) imposes control mechanisms over women’s bodies in Turkey. The thesis argues that even though secularist and Islamist discourses are seen in a dualistic framework, the patriarchal sexual moralities they impose on the bodies of women are not binary oppositions. Both utilize dress as a technology of the body to conceal female sexual bodies and regulate the visibility of women in public space. However, as a result of the different ways in which sexual moral norms are inhabited, these two discourses are perceived as oppositional. Thirty-one interviews were conducted with women involved in women’s movements in Istanbul and Ankara (Turkey) in 2010. The data analysis suggests that the sexual morality that aims at hiding the female sexual body through dress constrains the mobility and freedom of women in public spaces in Turkey. The study also shows that sexual morality has been maintained through state surveillance (such as laws and regulations on public morality and on dress) and through the public gaze (such as the judging gaze, sexual harassment and violence). Yet, the analysis of the sexual violence cases in regards to sexual morality and dress point out that sexual morality has become more conservative as a result of the increased conservatism in politics in the last decade. While this analysis shows sexual morality to be a disciplinary discourse and a practice producing ‘docile bodies’, it also reveals that women are not passively subjected to this morality. Women fashion different modalities of agencies that reveal various ways of living, embodying, as well as subverting and challenging the norms of sexual morality in Turkey.

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

“The First Murmurings of a Discourse”: Initial Theory Invention at the Beginning of the AIDS Epidemic

Author: 
Date created: 
2015-08-05
Abstract: 

In 1981, at the first recognition of the illness/es that would eventually be named “AIDS,” clinicians took what knowledge was available at hand to create several hypotheses as to the pathogenesis and etiology of the then mystery illness. The first major hypothesis, proposed by Michael Gottlieb and colleagues in December 1981, centered on the perceived prevalence of cytomegalovirus (CMV) within the “homosexual population.” The clinicians reasoned that the reactivation of the latent CMV virus coupled with constant re-exposure to the CMV pathogen gradually destroyed the cellular immune system of the host. This proposed cause quickly proved to be untenable. Subsequent explanations simultaneously refuted the CMV/overload hypothesis, yet at the same time altered the basic logic to propose other forms of withering or overload. Using close textual analysis this thesis traces the invention of these initial hypotheses (“first murmurings”) to see how they were interrelated and how, despite their differences, they entail a coherent logic. This reading utilizes Michel Foucault’s archeological method in conjunction with Derrida’s deconstruction of invention, and aims to identifying what Foucault calls a ‘rule of formation’.

Document type: 
Thesis
File(s): 
Supervisor(s): 
Cindy Patton
Department: 
Arts & Social Sciences:
Thesis type: 
(Thesis) M.A.

Trans/gender sincerities: A dialogic analysis of four young people’s embodied subjectivities

Date created: 
2015-06-01
Abstract: 

This thesis combines dialogic theory, intersectionality, and transfeminism in an interpretive case study of how four young people make sense of and negotiate their trans/gender embodied subjectivities. Between January and August 2014, I gathered data using narrative, walking, and art-based interviews, and a focus group. Using dialogical data analysis, I construct three layers of argument that cumulatively contend trans/gender sincerities – subjective realities – are multi-voiced and emergent in dialogic relations with others. First, I interpret the multiple ways participants’ sense their embodied selves, and how they negotiate processes of (mis)gendering. Second, I analyze the contested meanings of trans and cis within participants’ utterances, emphasizing the transformative potential of espousing multiple trans/gender sincerities. Third, I conduct an intersectional analysis of class, race, settler colonialism, sexuality and gender, arguing that trans/gender sincerity is ‘not enough.’ Rather, it must coincide with a critique of how intersecting systems of power mutually constitute trans/gender embodied subjectivities.

Document type: 
Thesis
File(s): 
Supervisor(s): 
Ann Travers
Department: 
Arts & Social Sciences:
Thesis type: 
(Thesis) M.A.

'Facebook for kinky people': a discursive analysis of FetLife

Date created: 
2015-08-05
Abstract: 

This study is a comprehensive investigation of FetLife, a BDSM (bondage and discipline, domination and submission, sadism and masochism) social networking website. Taking a discursive analytical approach that combines rhetorical-textual analysis with Stuart Hall’s encoding/decoding model, I look at a site-based scandal to investigate how FetLife is positioned as a safe and private community in order to achieve commercial benefits. Subsequently, I analyse user-generated content on the site, demonstrating that sexual self-representation on FetLife follows the logic of pornography. The adherence to this logic, alongside the site’s commercial realities, strongly contradict its claims to be an ‘alternative’ community space, leading me to conclude that online sexuo-social interactions are a space of conflict and contradiction wherein the nature of privacy and publicness are being radically altered by commercially driven developers, the cultural dominance of pornography and emerging cultures of online representation.

Document type: 
Thesis
File(s): 
Supervisor(s): 
Dany Lacombe
Department: 
Arts & Social Sciences:
Thesis type: 
(Thesis) M.A.

Negotiated practices: understanding hospital palliative care as an affective economy

Peer reviewed: 
No, item is not peer reviewed.
Date created: 
2015-07-06
Abstract: 

This dissertation is an exploration of contemporary hospital-based palliative care informed by ethnographic research in two large hospitals in Western Canada. My objective was to explore how the concept of an “affective economy” contributes to understanding the ways in which the dying process is currently negotiated in these spaces. Through extending existing scholarship on discourse, emotional labour, affect, affective economies, and literature on institutionalized end-of-life care as a form of social governance, I define an affective economy of hospitalized palliative care as a discursive formation, which is understood and explained through its emotional labour practices, and which attempts to organize the dying process in order to facilitate a good death. Primary attention is given to three aspects of clinicians’ emotional labour practices: therapeutic relationship building, addressing total pain, and offering of the dying role. Through interviews, fieldnotes, and case studies, I trace how these are relational practices of knowledge and power that circulate and privilege clinicians’ understandings of the emergent physical states of the patient, along with clinicians’ cultural authority to define the appropriate emotional orientations to these understandings. I also explore how these orientations are negotiated, validated, and/or contested through claims to narrative authority by all involved parties. I propose that, within an affective economy framing, hospitalized palliative care is best understood as constituted by two, not always complementary, discourses. These discourses both construct and reflect tensions within care provision, including: the evolution and mainstreaming of care, the requirement for rapid patient transitions, the rise of business modeling, and increased patient and family member involvement in clinical care decisions. This research contributes to the study of dying in three key ways. First, no one has yet conceptualized hospitalized palliative care as an affective economy. In doing so, the specific moments and networks of relations that constitute this form of care are understandable as a cultural system that attempts to make human capacities productive, even at the very end of life. Secondly, I forward an understanding that clinicians’ privileged position is one that often occurs within active and sustained negotiations, where emotional orientations to dying process are generated, validated, and/or contested within the perceived rights and obligations of all involved parties. Third, this framing encourages an understanding of hospitalized palliative care in contemporary Canadian hospitals as necessarily fluid and ambivalent, defined as much by negotiation and disjuncture as by mutuality and cooperation.

Document type: 
Thesis
File(s): 
Supervisor(s): 
Jane Pulkingham
Department: 
? by Home Dept & Faculty of Senior Supervisor:
Thesis type: 
(Dissertation) Ph.D.

Navigating income assistance: An ethnography of PWD (Persons With Disabilities) applications

Date created: 
2015-05-11
Abstract: 

This participatory ethnography examines the experiences of four women and one of their male partners living in British Columbia who have navigated applications for Income Assistance for Persons with Disabilities (PWD). I was inspired to do this research after hearing of the complexities of PWD applications while working in social justice organizations. Research methods included co-created ethnographic conversations, participant observation, and document analysis. Influenced by partial, positioned feminist epistemologies and the research participants’ analyses, findings are connected to literature from anthropology and critical disability studies. Research participants endured and critiqued the dominating neoliberal ideology of Income Assistance through skilled agentive negotiations of ableist bureaucratic processes; however, these experiences also impacted their sense of self and their relationships to their disabilities and other people in consequential ways. This thesis closes by discussing participants’ suggestions for providing service not dominated by neoliberal ideology and that could be more effectively navigated by claimants.

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

They want our work, but not our power: popular women, unpaid labor, and the making of the Bolivarian revolution

Date created: 
2015-02-10
Abstract: 

The Bolivarian revolution in Venezuela is part of broader Latin American institutional restructuring that aims to expand social, political and economic inclusion through increasing popular participation. This dissertation elucidates the gendered implications of attempts to construct post-neoliberal state-society relations and corresponding practices of popular power. It analyzes the dialectical relations between popular sector women and the Bolivarian state by focusing on the role of women’s unpaid labor in the revolution during Hugo Chávez’s presidency. This study examines for whom and for what ends popular women’s labor was deployed and discursively invoked. It also assesses the consequences of state-society relations for popular women, their power, and the gendered division of labor in Venezuela. This dissertation is based on an extended case study developed from interviews and participant observation with popular women; feminist analysts and organizations; and state women’s leaders and institutions. In reshaping state-society relations from the standpoint of the subaltern, the Bolivarian regime incorporated popular women as central participants in the revolution. This gendered political opening generated new opportunities for women’s rights, organizing, and articulations with the state. In 1999, Venezuela recognized the socio-economic value of housework and entitled homemakers to social security in Article 88 of its new constitution. The state instituted several programs that recognized some women’s unpaid reproductive labor and lightened and/or socialized their reproductive burdens. Yet this recognition rendered popular women’s unpaid labor and organizing vulnerable to state appropriation because of popular women’s positioning in the gendered division of labor. The state incorporated them through its practices and institutions by reconfiguring the extant hegemonic gender role of women as mothers in service of the revolution. It expected them to be both mobilized and contained for what it saw as the revolution’s broader interests. Popular women performed much of the unpaid social and political labor necessary to build and sustain the revolution. This utilization of their unpaid labor did not necessarily transform gender power relations. Initiatives to legislate Article 88 were forestalled, social security was not universally accessible, reproductive labor persisted as predominantly popular women’s responsibility, and many popular women remained socially, economically, and politically vulnerable.

Document type: 
Thesis
File(s): 
Supervisor(s): 
Hannah Wittman
Jane Pulkingham
Department: 
Arts & Social Sciences:
Thesis type: 
(Thesis) Ph.D.

Radio beyond Voice: Understanding Community Radio Stations in Ecuador through Performance

Date created: 
2015-04-07
Abstract: 

Situated in a context of media reform, this qualitative research follows a performance approach to explore some characteristics of community radio stations in Ecuador and their possible contributions to the needs, struggles, resistances, and initiatives proposed by individuals, communities, and social movements. This work starts from the consideration that the main role of community media is not to “give voice to the voiceless”, as it has been previously argued, but to accompany the expressions of individuals and communities that have been historically deprived of their voices. Hence, it suggests that performance can offer a broader scope through which to understand this type of media by transcending the notion of voice and including in the scope of analysis both the verbal and non-verbal mechanisms that individuals and communities find and employ to express themselves.

Document type: 
Thesis
File(s): 
Supervisor(s): 
Sonja Luehrmann
Department: 
Arts & Social Sciences:
Thesis type: 
(Thesis) M.A.