Alumni Dissertations and Theses

 
 

Alumni Dissertations and Theses

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  • Building the New American Nation: The U.S. Army and Economic Development, 1787-1860

    Author:
    William Adler
    Year of Dissertation:
    2011
    Program:
    Political Science
    Advisor:
    Andrew Polsky
    Abstract:

    This dissertation examines the Army's integral role in the early American political economy. Notwithstanding its small size, the Army proved to be a powerful instrument for promoting economic expansion and guiding the pattern and direction of development. The Army spurred development through two lines of activity: first, the traditional application of coercion and, second, by providing public goods that neither private actors nor state governments could supply. Considering the Army leads me to reconceptualize the early American state as a bifurcated entity: a state of the periphery, dominated by the Army, and a state of the center, in which the Army still influenced economic development but other public institutions also performed key development functions.

  • POLITICAL INTEGRATION OF TURKS IN THE U.S. AND THE NETHERLANDS: A COMPARATIVE STUDY OF THE ROLE OF TURKISH IMMIGRANT ORGANIZATIONS

    Author:
    Isil Anil
    Year of Dissertation:
    2010
    Program:
    Political Science
    Advisor:
    John Mollenkopf
    Abstract:

    This study provides a comparative analysis of political integration by Turkish immigrant organizations in metropolitan New York and Amsterdam. It is based on extensive fieldwork and numerous interviews in the two cities. Over the years, Turks have created a large and diverse network of organizations in both cities, the development of which was shaped by the changing political opportunity structures (POS) in their host countries as well as by political and institutional networks retained with Turkey. Using a political claims analysis method, this study finds that Turkish organizations in Amsterdam have been more politically active over the years than those in New York. Turkish organizations in Amsterdam have made claims on a wider variety of issues and undertaken more diversified types of activities than those in New York. This pattern results from a combination of factors. Differing POS, which include the legal and political institutional frameworks of the host country, alone are not sufficient to explain the different outcomes. This approach is too structurally determinant an argument. In contrast to prevailing approaches in the literature, a satisfactory analysis must also take into account the repertoire of actions developed by the Turkish communities of these two cities as well as choices made by their leadership. The number, mobilization capacity, organizational principles, mission, connectedness, and functional types of immigrant organizations are all as important as the opportunities made available - or foreclosed - by the local political setting. Lastly, this study argues that transnational ties with the homeland have served as crucial resources (political, material), have motivated political activism, and have enhanced connectedness between Turkish groups in both cities. It finds that Turkish organizations can and should be considered important actors in the political arena, advocating immigrants' interests and at times influencing public policy.

  • The Dialectical Self: Søren Kierkegaard, Karl Marx, and the Birth of Radical Freedom

    Author:
    Jamie Aroosi
    Year of Dissertation:
    2013
    Program:
    Political Science
    Advisor:
    Marshall Berman
    Abstract:

    This work advances two primary claims. First, it demonstrates that Karl Marx and Søren Kierkegaard can and should be read together, as they jointly constitute a similar development in 19th century thought. Notably, borrowing a model of dialectical subjectivity from their shared predecessor, Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel, while simultaneously rebelling against the primacy he gives to reason, both attempt to liberate this "dialectical self" so that it can embrace the radical understanding of freedom it embodies. Therefore, this work argues that a similar conception of the self, and the freedom it entails, unites the work of Marx and Kierkegaard, while also serving as a primary normative value orienting their work. However, for Marx, the social mechanics behind inequality serves as the major impediment to emancipation, whereas, for Kierkegaard, our internalization of social norms serves this role. Given that their intellectual projects were based in the praxis of emancipation, this difference explains why their work came to appear so different, as they each sought to articulate and overcome a different set of problems. Unfortunately, this also had the effect of obscuring their underlying, and profound, similarity. However, this work argues that these differences are in fact two sides of the same coin, and that Marx and Kierkegaard reciprocally, or dialectically, illuminate one another, as each teases out nuances and complexities in the other. Secondly, I advance a normative claim: Marx needs Kierkegaard, just as Kierkegaard needs Marx. That is, Kierkegaard's concern with subjective emancipation without Marx's interest in sociopolitical emancipation remains an unfinished project, whereas Marx's sociopolitical critique without Kierkegaard's subjective emancipation remains an empty one. In other words, freedom pertains both to subjectivity and to the objective world, and unless we remain attentive to both, we risk reinforcing oppression just as we think we are overcoming it. And while Marx is attentive to subjectivity and Kierkegaard to objectivity, each does so insufficiently. Yet, reading them together offers a comprehensive picture of the dialectical self that unites them, while also allowing us to be attentive to the spiritual and ethical dynamics of subjective emancipation as well as the sociopolitical dynamics of objective emancipation. Not only can we read Marx and Kierkegaard together, a full understanding of our "dialectical selves" and the freedom they entail, requires it.

  • Soviet Marxism Reconsidered: Dialectical Method in the Thought of Lev Vygotsky

    Author:
    Arto Artinian
    Year of Dissertation:
    2013
    Program:
    Political Science
    Advisor:
    Jack Jacobs
    Abstract:

    While intellectual engagement with the legacy of the Soviet experiment continues, objective and critical engagement with Soviet Marxist theory remains a barely-studied and marginal area of political theory. A commonly-held view suggests that little of political theoretical substance has been produced in the Soviet Union after the death of Lenin. Marxist theory in this context is often portrayed as dogmatic pseudo-Marxism, burdened by the heavy hand of Stalinist authoritarianism and handicapped by the execution and prosecution of creative Marxists living in the USSR. I will argue that this is an incomplete and distorted picture of Soviet Marxism. I propose that the work of Lev Vygotsky forms an alternative and highly original tradition of Soviet Marxist dialectics. As a thinker writing in the immediate aftermath of the October Revolution, his work is an attempt to apply Marxist dialectical method to the unique challenges of post-1917 Soviet society. Whereas most students of Vygotsky focus on his fundamental contributions to psychology, I argue that Vygotsky's work on dialectical method represents an original and significant contribution to Marxist dialectics, in both continuing the work of Gyorgy Lukacs and anticipating contemporary theories developed by Bertell Ollman and Roy Bhaskar. I will conclude by briefly engaging with Gilles Deleuze's "Difference and Repetition", which I want to argue can be read as a work of Marxist dialectics, struggling to make sense of the crisis of 1968 in France. Contrary to readings of this work as "moving away from Hegel and Marx and toward Nietzsche and Freud" (as stated on the back cover of 1994 English translation) I will argue that Deleuze was in fact moving beyond, but not outside Marx.

  • DIASPORA AS DEVELOPMENT ACTORS: A SOURCE OF HUMAN AND SOCIAL CAPITAL FOR LOCAL DEVELOPMENT IN TURKEY

    Author:
    Meryem Ataselim
    Year of Dissertation:
    2014
    Program:
    Political Science
    Advisor:
    Irving Markovitz
    Abstract:

    This dissertation provides an analysis of Turkish-American diaspora philanthropy - done through social and human capital transfers - and its role in impacting local development in Turkey. The study offers the consideration of a new kind of diaspora philanthropy, namely innovative philanthropy, which channels ideas, skills and experiences that have the potential to impact social change in local communities through social and human capital transfers. The dissertation presents and analyzes two cases that have been supported by the Turkish-American diaspora. Case studies show that even though diaspora philanthropy towards Turkey is still relatively new and small in financial terms, there are members of the diaspora who make a difference in their local communities beyond what any other international actor can develop. Study highlights the impact of these diaspora members, whose philanthropic contributions are a combination of motivation, and persistence; and uses the term "diaspora champions" to define them. These diaspora champions connect back home not just by sending money but sharing the experiences and skills they gained in the United States and tapping into their personalized networks. The study depicts the social process of these philanthropic transfers with a particular emphasis on the roles of social and human capital transfers. The study finds that diaspora champions have been instrumental in 1) the emergence of local civic leaders; 2) the launch and initiation of local social initiatives; and 3) the expansion of these social initiatives beyond local regions. Accordingly, this research suggests that philanthropy done by diaspora champions through social and human capital has an important role to play in creating a new paradigm for local development, as it offers some powerful insights.

  • The Volatile American Voter: Inconsistent Voting Behavior in the United States, 1948-2004

    Author:
    Arthur Beckman
    Year of Dissertation:
    2011
    Program:
    Political Science
    Advisor:
    John Mollenkopf
    Abstract:

    This dissertation is a study of the political behavior, demographics, and attitudes of Americans who have been inconsistent in party choice, turnout, or both in presidential elections from 1948 to 2004. Most prior scholarship has indicated that these individuals, who play a pivotal role in electoral outcomes, have comprised a minority of the American electorate. The analyses presented here, however, reveal that these "volatile" voters have, from 1948 to 2004, comprised between 50.5 and 60.7 percent of the voting public. Volatile voters are, overall, less likely to be politically sophisticated than party-loyal voters. But the aggregation of all volatile voters into one group when assessing their levels of political aptitude and engagement obscures the fact that volatile sophisticates are plentiful in the United States, and have comprised between 18.1 and 27.0 percent of the electorate since the 1948 - a segment that is decisively large. The large distribution of volatile sophisticates, and volatile voters overall, provides support for the notion that voter engagement with political issues regularly overcomes the habitual party affinities of a substantial fraction of the American public, and that issues indeed matter to voters, most of whom engage them and act upon them in a reasoning manner. I additionally provide evidence, contrary to the findings in much voting and elections literature, that volatile voters can be reliably identified and quantified using sociological measures.

  • From the South Bronx to Israel:Rap Music and the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict

    Author:
    Nirit Ben-Ari
    Year of Dissertation:
    2010
    Program:
    Political Science
    Advisor:
    Irving Markovitz
    Abstract:

    Despite its origins with underprivileged youth in America's urban ghettos, popular rap music in Israel is not necessarily connected with underprivileged minorities in Israel. On the contrary, generally speaking, commercially recorded rap music in Israel is either distanced from politics and adheres to a color-blind ideology, or includes expressions of right-wing Jewish nationalism. As a whole, rap music in Israel reproduces and perpetuates the social order as is, and rarely challenge it, notwithstanding moments of subversion. This anomaly - of pro-government, hegemonic rap - is possible in Israel because both rap music and Zionism, the hegemonic ideology, are perceived as an act of resistance, as "revolutionary", and as a claim for justice. This study also discuss rappers who are Palestinian citizens of Israel, examining how they see rap music as a place to assert claims for a common global experience of marginalization, voicelessness, and oppression that echoes their own struggle. The presence of Palestinian rappers who are citizens of Israel within the hip hop scene highlights that popular rap music in Israel is a tool of Zionist nation-building. This study shows that popular rap music, like other forms of popular music in Israel, serves as a tool of nation-building. Hence, official institutions find rap useful and co-opt rappers of different political persuasions for purposes of propaganda outside of Israel. Finally, it sheds light on the role of the rapper in society, and of the scholar's value judgments rendered on rap music.

  • The Violations Will Not Be Televised: Television News Coverage of Human Rights in the US & UK

    Author:
    Shawna Brandle
    Year of Dissertation:
    2013
    Program:
    Political Science
    Advisor:
    George Andreopoulos
    Abstract:

    This study briefly reviews the relevent communication studies and international relations literatures to build the foundation for the content analyses by defining terms and highlighting the most salient points for comparison between the media and human rights systems in the US and UK. It then moveson to three different types of content analysis on American television news broadcasts and two different types on British television news broadcasts, all with the goal of determining how those media systems cover human rights and how that coverage differs across media systems. First, a content analysis of all of the stories containing the phrase human rights from one US network news broadcast from 1990-2009 is conducted to see the amount of human rights coverage in the US in the post-Cold War period and examines both the issues and the countries that are covered in the context of human rights in the US. Then one month of transcripts/shooting scripts for evening news broadcasts in the US and UK in 1990 is examined to see what, if any, kinds of stories might be covering human rights issues without explicitly using the phrase human rights. Finally, a visual analysis of one week of evening news broadcasts for the US and UK from 1990-2009 is conducted, comparing which stories are covered in each country, as well as how they are covered. As it turns out, there is very little human rights coverage on television news, period. There is more human rights coverage in the UK than in the US, but not as much more as might have been expected, given the states' differing approaches to human rights and differing television media systems. One key difference between the two countries' coverage is the depth of coverage of human rights stories; once the UK covers a human rights issue, it tends to do it more thoroughly, from more angles, and with more explanation, so the audience is more likely to learn about human rights when they are covered on the BBC than when they are covered on NBC or ABC.  

  • ECONOMIC-MINDED PARTISANS: UNDERSTANDING HOW ECONOMIC PERCEPTIONS AND POLITICAL PARTISANSHIP CONDITION VOTING BEHAVIOR

    Author:
    Michael Brogan
    Year of Dissertation:
    2009
    Program:
    Political Science
    Advisor:
    Charles Tien
    Abstract:

    In this dissertation, I will introduce a new way to understand economic voting. I argue there is an interactive relationship between how the economy and the political environment are recognized among voters when making a vote choice. The framework for determining vote choice can be explained in the following manner: (1) During economic downturns, economic perceptions are the impetus for voters' decision making; because the economy is performing poorly, voters punish the incumbent government. (2) During economic prosperity, voters focus less on the economy and more on politics; incumbent presidents are rewarded for economic prosperity to a lesser extent because voters focus primarily on political matters. (3) During periods of mixed economic performance, voters focus on the economy; however, this focus is tinged by partisan filters. My findings indicate a significant interactive relationship existing between voters' partisanship and voters' economic perceptions in voting behavior which demonstrates that voters do not uniformly engage in economic voting. The model estimates that less partisan voters are more likely to act as economic voters by rewarding (punishing) incumbents for a good (bad) economy while stronger partisans typically use their economic perceptions as a means to reinforce existing partisan preferences when making their voting decisions. 

  • Politics as a Sphere of Wealth Accumulation: Cases of Gilded Age New York, 1855-1888

    Author:
    Jeffrey Broxmeyer
    Year of Dissertation:
    2014
    Program:
    Political Science
    Advisor:
    Frances Piven
    Abstract:

    This dissertation examines political wealth accumulation in American political development. Scholars have long understood the political system selects for "progressive ambition" for higher office. My research shows that officeseekers have also engaged in "progressive greed" for greater wealth. I compare the career trajectories of four prominent New York political figures during the Gilded Age: William Tweed, Fernando Wood, Roscoe Conkling, and Chester Arthur. Using correspondence, census, tax and land records, government reports, investigations, and newspaper coverage, I explain why each political figure chose to either seize or pass up opportunities for political wealth accumulation. I also examine the principal sources of fortunes and the types of political practices that generated them. Profit-maximizing behavior during the late nineteenth century was central to the consolidation of politics as a vocation. Career-altering events such as an election loss, or alternatively, the opportunity to join a dominant party faction, often recalibrated a politician's strategic calculation in the tradeoff between power and wealth. Furthermore, the dominant view of self-aggrandizement is that public officials either steal or extract rents, for example, in the form of bribes or loans. However, none of the large fortunes examined among my cases were built through conventional rent seeking, and peculation was only a minor source of income. Instead, the great fortunes were built through marketing-making activities. Tweed, Wood, Conkling, and Arthur accumulated political wealth by securing dominant market positions, or by creating new markets altogether. These figures accumulated productive personal property, or political capital, through control over political institutions, most notably by speculating in real estate, railroads, and finance, and by the establishment of politically dependent businesses, such as banks, lotteries, newspapers, and law firms.