Alumni Dissertations and Theses

 
 

Alumni Dissertations and Theses

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  • STRATEGIC CITIZENSHIP: DUAL MARGINALIZATION AND ORGANIZED TRANSNATIONAL POLITICAL MOBILIZATION AMONG ECUADORIAN AND DOMINICAN MIGRANTS

    Author:
    Howard Caro-Lopez
    Year of Dissertation:
    2012
    Program:
    Sociology
    Advisor:
    John Torpey
    Abstract:

    What factors define transnational political participation and citizenship for contemporary migrants? This dissertation focused on how and why migrant activists from Ecuador and the Dominican Republic pursued political engagement, how their home country governments influenced migrants' political activities, and how migrant organizations shaped their transnational activities. The study found that transnational political participation among these two populations was driven by a dual marginalization narrative, where migrants draw from their personal experiences to conclude that they are marginalized in both the U.S. and in their countries of origin based on their status as migrants. Ecuadorian and Dominican political organization leaders use this dual marginalization to create a political identity to demand minority-group rights in both home and host countries. Migrant activists make calculated decisions on where to focus their claims for rights, which I refer to as strategic citizenship Strategic citizenship is shaped by nation-state actions and local organizations. The Ecuadorian and Dominican governments influence strategic citizenship through: 1) public discourse that defines migrants' status in society; 2) the rule of law; and 3) policies that shape the state-migrant relationship. While the Ecuadorian governments' actions encouraged greater migrant participation, the Dominican government's approach was more contentious, creating skepticism among migrants towards engagement. In both cases government policy, reinforced feelings of dual marginalization. Strategic citizenship was also influenced by the different organizations in which migrant activists were involved. Migrants active in home country political parties had considerable advantages in resources and government connections, but were stifled by national party demands, member attrition and unstable leadership. Social movement and civic organizations struggled to harness resources, but had more stable leadership, more ideological autonomy and cohesive membership. I conclude that migrant political transnationalism, when examined through a contentious politics framework, originates from shared experiences engendered by the migration experience, which is reinforced by nation-state and used by organized actors frame migrant collective action. Migrants' claims for minority rights in both sending and receiving countries reflect how these actors perceive their condition to be a consequence of ruling elite actions in each country, as well as their perceived contributions as subjects of two nation-states.  

  • Making Up the Difference: Ecuadorian Women Engaged in Direct Selling

    Author:
    Erynn Casanova
    Year of Dissertation:
    2009
    Program:
    Sociology
    Advisor:
    Mitchell Duneier
    Abstract:

    As economic globalization progresses, employment is becoming more flexible and informalized in many parts of the world. In some developing countries, direct sales (selling branded products from person to person) is an increasingly attractive type of work, especially for women. Direct sales organizations benefit from cultural norms and structural forces that steer women away from full-time jobs in the formal economy, and also from the material conditions that lead to women's need to earn an income. This study examines the work experiences and social worlds of women affiliated with Ecuador's most successful direct sales company, Yanbal, with a focus on the ways in which women make decisions about their work and construct their identities as working women and members of families. The meanings and consequences of the women's work are placed in the context of gender relations, regimes of physical appearance, employment options, and consumption. Employing a combination of qualitative methods (ethnography, content analysis, surveys), the study argues that people's reactions to direct sales as an income-generating activity both shape and are shaped by their gendered economic strategies, behaviors that represent a reconciling of cultural norms of gender and work with material conditions and pressing financial needs. The work addresses questions such as: whether direct selling is empowering for women; how Yanbal can achieve success in Ecuador's challenging economic climate; and how cultural and social norms regulating women's physical appearance are related to ideas about gender, social class, and work. The findings of this study underline the importance of examining a rapidly-expanding type of work, a formal-informal hybrid that appeals mainly to women and helps to promote the expansion of consumer capitalism around the world.

  • Sharps, Squares, and Scalpers: Gambling in the Urban Underground

    Author:
    AnneMarie Cesario
    Year of Dissertation:
    2014
    Program:
    Sociology
    Advisor:
    William Kornblum
    Abstract:

    This study was conducted to examine the role of bookmakers in urban communities. Although bookmaking dates to 1780 in London, there has been little academic research on the bookmaker, or "bookie," and his role in neighborhood life. Drawing on five years of ethnographic research across three U.S. cities, I sought to answer two questions: 1. What is the relationship between the bookie and the neighborhood he serves, and how is his deviant identity managed in the larger community; and 2. How is trust established and maintained among actors in illegal gambling transactions? Once established, does this strengthen social networks and enhance the cohesiveness of the neighborhood? Through a series of qualitative case studies, this research shows how: masculinity is revered and displayed through the sports betting process; race, ethnicity, and residency dictate levels of trust among bettors and bookies; the bookie negotiates his deviant identity in both interpersonal and societal relationships; and the presence of bookmakers is ubiquitous across the United States, despite the advent of quick access and one-click internet forms of gambling. As well, quantitative and mapping analyses are undertaken to further explore gambling differentiation by type. I examine how bookmakers persist, who their clients are, how trust is formed among them, and what, if any, role race and sex play in creating bonds of trust. Five community areas in Chicago were chosen as ethnographic locations, as were three in New York and three in Los Angeles. My research shows that, despite being an illegal enterprise in the United States (with the exception of Nevada and Delaware), bookmakers exist in almost every city across the country and cater to a diverse range of clients. Moreover, the research explores how bookies manage to persist despite major demographic changes and community gentrification. This dissertation fills a void in sociological literature by examining the role of the bookmaker in urban neighborhoods in the twenty first century. This exploration of bookies can contribute not only to our overall knowledge of deviance, but also to the theorizing of identity and trust, race, network analysis, and governance of urban space.

  • Polling, Media Discourse, and the Construction of Ignorance: Public Opinion Formation and the Bush Tax Cuts

    Author:
    Martha Crum
    Year of Dissertation:
    2010
    Program:
    Sociology
    Advisor:
    Janet Gornick
    Abstract:

    The advent of polling brought anticipation of renewed government accountability as well as concerns that powerful interests would use the power of mass media to subvert public opinion's emancipatory potential. When early models of public opinion manipulation did not stand up to empirical scrutiny, its study took a decidedly technocratic turn. Critiques of public opinion today tend to be either so fundamental that they suggest its study is moot or so technical that it is difficult to see the larger substantive implications for public opinion formation. We know that public opinion on many issues is "irrational" in the sense that a more informed public would be, quite literally, a public of a different mind. At the same time, we know that mass media exerts a substantial influence over how the public thinks about issues. In this case study of public opinion and the Bush tax cuts, I take a comprehensive and integrated look at public opinion formation in order to identify the multiple processes by which its emancipatory potential is suppressed. These processes include the news media's public opinion producing practices, its public opinion consuming practices, and its issue reporting practices. Rarely are these three dimensions of the public sphere analyzed together on a particular issue. I argue that the public was not as supportive of the tax cuts as conventional wisdom supposed; that ignorance dampened oppositional opinion; that values were more central to opinion formation than self interest yet the unwillingness of the media to challenge the Bush administration's economic framing of the tax cuts resulted in a severely curtailed media discourse which did not invite the type of contextualization or information that might have allowed people to connect tax policy to their values, as they had at earlier points in history. In conclusion, I show how this analytic approach can illuminate public opinion on other major policy issues.

  • (Remember) The Future: The Preemptive Governance of Memory in the Age of Mass Catastrophe

    Author:
    Kimberly Cunningham
    Year of Dissertation:
    2014
    Program:
    Sociology
    Advisor:
    Patricia Clough
    Abstract:

    This study is a critical engagement with the preemptive turn in post-biopolitical governance in psychotherapies to treat traumatic memory and its related clinical diagnosis, post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), in the wake of the mass disasters of the 21st century. Emerging in the post-911 era of increased anticipatory action in the governance of populations and also, increasingly ubiquitous and large scale threat such as global recession, climate change, and terrorism/war, traumatic memory of these events is framed increasingly as a population-level contagion to be addressed by anticipatory action. A study of trends in emerging and favored psychotherapies for trauma post-911 reveals that traumatic memory becomes understood and controlled as a population-level, contagious psycho-medical threat. New psychotherapies such as EMDR and virtual reality therapy, utilizing new simulation methods that engage the body's sensory memory, are being utilized with the aim of conditioning the body's responses before traumatic symptoms can form in the brain's "neuro networks." This study examines how these temporal logics are consistent with the logics of preemptive war, and enact and transmit, through the act of preparation and preemption, the very panic and trauma they claim to be preventing.

  • VARIATIONS IN SOCIOECONOMIC TRAJECTORIES, 1980 TO 2010: THE BLACK AMERICA STORY

    Author:
    Jonathan DeBusk
    Year of Dissertation:
    2013
    Program:
    Sociology
    Advisor:
    Juan Battle
    Abstract:

    In the decades since the Civil Rights Movement, scholars have studied the changing economic and social status of Black Americans to see whether the promise of racial equality is being fulfilled. Focusing on the period from 1980 to 2010, this dissertation examines three themes that emerge from this literature. It compares the trajectories over time of different groups of Black Americans according to age, gender, and U.S.- versus foreign-born status. It follows the fortunes of these different groups over time, measured by income, poverty status, educational attainment, home ownership, employment, and labor force participation. It uses data from the Minnesota Population Center's Integrated Public Use Microdata Series of the United States Census Bureau's 1980, 1990, and 2000 Census, and 2008-10 (3-year cross-sectional data) American Community Survey (ACS). This study uses synthetic age cohort analysis to test and apply theories of cultural and social capital and social stratification within the Black population over time. This dissertation concludes with individual- and group-level policy suggestions.

  • When Wives Migrate and Leave Husbands Behind: A Jamaican Marriage Pattern

    Author:
    Elaine Douglas-Harrison
    Year of Dissertation:
    2014
    Program:
    Sociology
    Advisor:
    cynthia fuchs-epstein
    Abstract:

    ABSTRACT WHEN WIVES MIGRATE AND LEAVE HUSBANDS BEHIND: A JAMAICAN MARRIAGE PATTERN by Elaine Douglas-Harrison Adviser: Professor Cynthia Fuchs Epstein For over a hundred years Jamaicans have been migrating to make the proverbial `better life' for themselves and their families. In the early 20th century husbands migrated, leaving wives behind. As economies of the United States and Canada have become more service-oriented, wives migrate leaving husbands behind. The experiences of Jamaican immigrant women are documented in Caribbean migration studies, but the marriages of Jamaican legally-married immigrant wives and their husbands left behind in Jamaica are so far unstudied. The main research question of this study is what maintains these transnational marriages over time, sometimes for decades, when spouses see each other sometimes only once or twice a year. Data for the study come from: in-depth interviews conducted between 2005 and 2007; conversations held over the past fifteen years with participants in these marriages in the United States and in Jamaica; and participant observation of U.S. and Jamaican societies. The findings reveal that daily companionship in marriage is not as essential a Jamaican cultural value as migration, but that the institution of marriage, although not the dominant form of coupling in Jamaica, is important enough to last. Moreover, divorce still bears a stigma in Jamaican culture. Outcomes of these marriages vary but may not be unpredictable, depending on their pre-migration state and the nature of the living-apart experience. By focusing on these Jamaican transnational marriages, this study hopes to cast another light on Jamaican migration, as well as to encourage further discussion and research of legal marriage in Jamaica and in the Afro-Caribbean.

  • Hucksters and Trucksters: Criminalization and Gentrification in New York City's Street Vending Industry

    Author:
    Kathleen Dunn
    Year of Dissertation:
    2013
    Program:
    Sociology
    Advisor:
    Sharon Zukin
    Abstract:

    The expansion of the informal economy since the 1970s developed in tandem with a growing militarization of urban public space, creating extreme precarity for street vendors, a leading occupational group within the informal sector. Based on over three years of participant observation and seventy interviews with street vendors and their advocates, this dissertation examines the present-day street vending industry in New York City, which has long been comprised of first-generation immigrants, but has in recent years seen a marked growth in highly educated, native-born gourmet food truck owners. The research illustrates how two processes, inherent to what I term the post-industrial complex, are increasing stratification within New York's street economy. First, there is a dramatic criminalization of immigrant street vendors who regularly encounter arrests and ticketing. This blocks their upward mobility, most acutely for women, and locates vendors in a liminal class position, possessing elements of proprietorship that are subjugated by the governance of public space. Second, a new wave of commercial gentrification has occurred within street vending, where more affluent native-born vendors are able to effectively capitalize on vending to rapidly establish brick-and-mortar businesses, and in so doing inflate the price of vending permits in the underground economy. These divergent conditions reveal how the governance of post-industrial urban space reinforces the criminalization of poor and working class people of color, while facilitating the advancement of more affluent and predominantly white professionals. The streets of the post-industrial complex are policed as a border for immigrant vendors, and are pioneered as a frontier by native-born food truck owners. Yet criminalization has produced street vendor solidarities, evidenced in a growing street labor movement amongst immigrant vendors in New York. Like most vendor organizations across the Global South, two immigrant street vendor worker centers in New York press the municipal government to uphold vendors' right to the city. In contrast, the city's native-born food truck owners have established a business association not to achieve social justice but to increase profitability. Post-industrial urban governance thus deepens inequalities within the informal economy while spurring new movements to claim the enduring resource of urban public space.

  • Black Males, Money and More: Conduits and Barriers to Academic Success

    Author:
    Wayne Edwards
    Year of Dissertation:
    2011
    Program:
    Sociology
    Advisor:
    Juan Battle
    Abstract:

    Much ink has been spent and theories proffered unpacking the societal, school and community factors that impact educational outcomes of Black male students in the United States. Employing the National Education Longitudinal Study (NELS), this dissertation seeks to add to this important discourse on academic achievement by contrasting the conduits and barriers to educational success for a nationally representative sample of Black males of low socioeconomic status versus Black males of not-low socioeconomic status across a series of demographic, behavioral, and attitudinal variables. The theoretical framework for this undertaking will include, but not be limited to, social and cultural capital (Bourdieu and Coleman), alienation thesis (Yancy), oppositional theory (Ogbu), and Black sexual politics (Collins). This dissertation will conclude with micro (individual level) and macro (policy level) suggestions.

  • THE CRISIS AND BERNIE MADOFF: CAPITALISM, MEDIA, AND CULTURE IN THE US AND UK

    Author:
    Colleen Eren
    Year of Dissertation:
    2013
    Program:
    Sociology
    Advisor:
    Lynn Chancer
    Abstract:

    Adviser: Lynn S. Chancer During the maelstrom of uncertainty and panic produced by crisis of 2007-2008, the "Bernie" Madoff Ponzi scandal erupted into headlines in the US and UK press. The punitive responses and corresponding discourse surrounding the case were remarkable, as social scientists have generally focused on the `criminological' poor and `street' crime, not wealthy financial fraudsters or white collar crime, under a presumption of public apathy. What themes emerged from this discourse, and what was their significance during a time of financial crisis? Were there differences in US coverage versus that in the UK, and what did this say about culture and capitalism? This dissertation, contributing to the literature on crime and media, follows the work of Lynn Chancer on high profile crimes using a mixed methods, comparative approach. Content analysis of 8 newspapers was performed using the qualitative research program Atlas.ti, and interviews with major journalists, editors, SEC officials, and Bernie Madoff were conducted. I explore how the Madoff case provided an intelligible, human narrative through which issues seen as causing the crisis and threatening capitalism could be explored, contested and solutions proposed. I also argue that the entire cultural performance of seeking harsh justice for Madoff provided a symbolic resolution to the dissonance that emerged as a result of the financial crisis, but did not address deeper structural concerns with free market capitalism that would prevent the occurrence of future financial frauds of this scale.