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

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Studying social work: neoliberalism, institutional ethnography and a program of undergraduate social work education

Date created: 
2007
Abstract: 

Starting from the observation that social work students and faculty conceive of social work as an area of thought and activity separate from its practice, this thesis explores the historical and current relationship between social work education and (neo)liberal governance. Drawing on the theoretical developments of Rose (1996a; 1996b) and Fraser (1989), qualitative interviews with students and faculty at a social work program in British Columbia and analyses of program-related texts, I argue that social work education methods fail to interrogate the professional power of social workers associated with credentials, policy and agency mandates. Ultimately, social work education preserves the definition of social work as an activity of social justice without successfully protesting the neoliberal trend toward elimination and reduction of state social welfare provisions current in Canadian social services.

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

Intertwining gazes and voices: representational practices of minoritarian filmmakers in Vancouver

Author: 
Date created: 
2007
Abstract: 

This thesis aims to reconfigure the practice of ethnographic filmmaking by learning from the insights of four minority filmmakers. Using renewed notions of authorship and creative agency, I explore each filmmaker’s approach to film production, as well as her relationship with her work and audience. Because of her unique sociohistorical background, I argue, she is able to experiment with a variety of representational techniques. Through ‘border filmmaking,’ she exercises multi-dimensional/-directional vision and speech, and strives to continually transgress and dissolve personal/social boundaries. Such intertwining gazes and voices challenge the conventional paradigm of ethnographic film, which has been built on notions of culture and identity as passive, bounded entities. Thus, I argue for a more experimental approach that stresses the negotiability of filmic meanings. I also argue that ‘shared’ ethnographic filmmaking must politicize the very process of production, which will consequently enable active dialogues in the academic and public spheres.

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

Dress and identity among the black Tai of Loei province, Thailand

Author: 
Date created: 
2007
Abstract: 

This thesis examines dress, textiles, and identity of the Tai Dam or Black Tai living in Loei Province, Northeastern Thailand. The thesis focuses on the contemporary role of traditional and tradition-based Black Tai textiles and dress as material and symbolic representations of Black Tai ethnic and socio-cultural identity. The ethnographic research utilizing participant observation, interviews, observation of behaviour and interactions provided a wealth of information for analysis. The interpretive analysis of textiles and ethnic dress reveals that dress and textiles serve a crucial role in ethnic and cultural continuity among the Black Tai peoples; however a number of types of traditional textiles have been lost due to acculturation and commercialization. Textiles continue to figure prominently in the religious beliefs and practices of the Tai Dam as well as serving as markers of status, functioning to promote cultural and social cohesion, and more recently serving as a means of economic development.

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

Indigenous education and the post-secondary student support program: Colonial governance, neo-liberal imperatives, and gendered outcomes

Date created: 
2007
Abstract: 

The Post-Secondary Student Support Program funds higher education for status Indian and Inuit individuals. Since the 1970’s, program administration has devolved from the federal government to the Band level. From 1989, federal changes to the PSSSP have restricted length of funded study, imposed performance measures and a funding cap and implemented block funding mechanisms. This allowed the federal government to curtail costs while seemingly increasing First Nations’ autonomy and resources. Faced with funding restrictions, rising numbers of eligible students, increasing tuition and education expenses, First Nations have developed Local Operating Policies to guide student sponsorship decisions since, increasingly, not all students can be funded. Based on an analysis of federal policies, First Nations’ LOPs, and key informant interviews, this research uses critical discourse analysis to examine how colonialism, neo-liberalism, and patriarchy structure these processes of resource distribution and employ techniques of governmentality in the constitution of Aboriginal individuals and nations.

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

“You can’t just let health care happen”: Unpaid caregiving of brain injured spouses in a context of marketization in British Columbia

Author: 
Date created: 
2007
Abstract: 

Drawing on feminist approaches, this thesis utilizes in-depth interviews to examine unpaid caregiving of a brain injured spouse in a context of health care marketization in BC. In this context of decreasing public support and cuts to services, this study focuses on caregiving practices which emerge at gaps in health services at three sites: the hospital, accessing rehabilitation, and the community. Caregivers provide direct care in hospitals in response to inadequate healthcare, construct their spouses as “deserving” of scarce rehabilitation services, and provide care in the community with limited supports. Caregivers’ advocacy care work is critical for gaining access to services and those with greater resources are better positioned to provide advocacy and other forms of care. Overall, gender influences the discourses caregivers draw upon to describe their caregiving practices. I conclude with a discussion of policy considerations which address some of the effects of marketization on unpaid caregiving.

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

Creating the 'pure' athlete: Discourses on steroid use and prohibition in sport

Author: 
Date created: 
2007
Abstract: 

This thesis questions current anti-doping policy in sport because it is unable to account for the integration of sporting technologies that have rendered the ‘pure’ body fictional. My research is based on a discourse analysis of World Anti-Doping Agency policies, newspaper articles covering baseball’s ‘steroid scandal’, and interviews with competitive athletes. Discourses about steroids suggest that dangerous health outcomes, coupled with artificial performance boosts, create doped athletes that require surveillance interventions from sporting authorities to protect ‘clean sport’. Moral panics are encouraged by media and policy reports through narratives that increasingly depend on a ‘war on drugs’ logic. Athletes are placed at the center of this paradox between the ‘win at all cost’ approach of sport and the mantra that only ‘clean athletes’ count. Consequently, resources are funneled into eliminating doping through antiquated ethics concerned with natural/artificial boundaries; while legal technologies improving performance and causing harm continue unchecked.

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

Local bacteria, transnational laboratory: The politics of cholera research in Bangladesh

Date created: 
2007
Abstract: 

This work explores ways in which a situation of endemic cholera, the emergence of humanitarian science and the marginality of nation-state are mutually constitutive in Bangladesh. Reconstructing parallel histories of pain and suffering of a cholera stricken population and humanitarian science, I have argued that violence and vivisection is endemic to this co-construction process. I examine the paradoxes of humanitarianism and contradictions of public health policies at length, looking particularly the promotion of bacteriologically safe water and its consequences. I suggest that the structural condition under which a cholera epidemic becomes a manageable health problem itself inflicts an unmanageable health problem ­ the arsenic disaster. In Bangladesh, the declining of child mortality due to diarrhoea coincides with a biosocial situation in which incidences of arsenicosis alarmingly increases. I have shown here that scientific discovery happen in the postcolonial context at the cost of creating new forms of social suffering.

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

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.)