Alumni Dissertations and Theses

 
 

Alumni Dissertations and Theses

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  • A Rich Man's War and a Poor Man's Fight? Historical Memory and the Class Dynamics of the Vietnam Antiwar Movement and Antiwar Sentiment in the United States

    Author:
    Penny Lewis
    Year of Dissertation:
    2009
    Program:
    Sociology
    Advisor:
    Stanley Aronowitz
    Abstract:

    This dissertation analyzes the relationship between social class, opposition to the war in Vietnam, and our collective memory of that opposition. It both refutes and contextualizes the myth of “worker hawks” opposing “elite doves” that dominates our collective memory of the period. Three central arguments are made. First, through archival research and secondary analysis, the dissertation argues that movement opposition to the war in its early years emerged mainly among middle-class students, privileged liberals and radicals, but as the war went on, this opposition was joined by working-class constituencies, including soldiers; veterans; African-American and Chicano/a movement activists; significant parts of the labor movement; and working-class students. Second, characteristics of the movement as it emerged limited its class base, a limitation amplified by inter-movement relations between labor, civil rights and antiwar forces in the period of 1965-1967. Finally, the antiwar movement's later cross-class nature has been elided because of the conventions of historical story-telling and because it contradicts a longstanding social narrative of “liberal elites” and “conservative workers” that, while largely false, is culturally resonant and expedient for multiple political elites.

  • A Rich Man's War and a Poor Man's Fight? Historical Memory and the Class Dynamics of the Vietnam Antiwar Movement and Antiwar Sentiment in the United States

    Author:
    Penny Lewis
    Year of Dissertation:
    2009
    Program:
    Sociology
    Advisor:
    Stanley Aronowitz
    Abstract:

    This dissertation analyzes the relationship between social class, opposition to the war in Vietnam, and our collective memory of that opposition. It both refutes and contextualizes the myth of “worker hawks” opposing “elite doves” that dominates our collective memory of the period. Three central arguments are made. First, through archival research and secondary analysis, the dissertation argues that movement opposition to the war in its early years emerged mainly among middle-class students, privileged liberals and radicals, but as the war went on, this opposition was joined by working-class constituencies, including soldiers; veterans; African-American and Chicano/a movement activists; significant parts of the labor movement; and working-class students. Second, characteristics of the movement as it emerged limited its class base, a limitation amplified by inter-movement relations between labor, civil rights and antiwar forces in the period of 1965-1967. Finally, the antiwar movement's later cross-class nature has been elided because of the conventions of historical story-telling and because it contradicts a longstanding social narrative of “liberal elites” and “conservative workers” that, while largely false, is culturally resonant and expedient for multiple political elites.

  • Becoming Japanese: Contested Meanings of Race and Nationality in Contemporary Japan

    Author:
    Youngmi Lim
    Year of Dissertation:
    2010
    Program:
    Sociology
    Advisor:
    Stephen Steinberg
    Abstract:

    I examine the "final" phase of assimilation of Koreans born and raised in Japan (zainichi Koreans), an invisible racial minority fully acculturated yet kept in legal limbo for decades, in a society where immigration and naturalization continue to be exceptional. How do zainichi Koreans represent themselves and participate in Japanese civic life? By specifically focusing on the dilemma of becoming Japanese among the former colonial subjects and their descendents, I explore both the permeability and impermeability of Japanese collective identity. Based on 1) in-depth interviews with zainichi Koreans, regardless of nationality, legal statuses and levels of collective consciousness, or zainichi literacy, 2) participant observations in different groups and events, and 3) secondary analyses of official statistics as well as opinion pieces and autobiographies authored by zainichi Koreans for the Japanese print media, I examine shifting zainichi representations and debates over civic participation. I trace prominent shifts in their interpretations of the collective past and ideas about collective identity, citizenship and civic participation. I also provide an ethnographic account of everyday experiences among intermarried couples, naturalized individuals and local activist groups, covertly and overtly expressing Korean heritage and the political agenda in predominantly Japanese environment where Korean lineage is not a cost-free symbolic ethnicity. These all attest to unstated assumptions about what it means to be authentic members of Japanese society or who has the right to dissent in the revisionist currents of Japanese collective and historical identity. Diverse expressions of zainichi Korean identities, whether losing their perceived genealogical connection with Korean roots, passing but expressing their Korean heritage exclusively in a private domain, or claiming proactive Korean identity that is perceived as foreign, complementarily reproduce Japanese societal homogeneity. Paradoxically, active claimants of collective Korean identities, with or without Japanese nationality, tend to participate more actively in Japanese civil society than those without explicit Korean identity claims. Zainichi Koreans resist and accommodate the process of becoming Japanese, while continuing to fulfill discursive and political needs of the Japanese majority.

  • The Privileged "In-Between" Status of Latino Jews in the Northeastern United States

    Author:
    Laura Limonic
    Year of Dissertation:
    2014
    Program:
    Sociology
    Advisor:
    Nancy Foner
    Abstract:

    This study is an in-depth look at how religion, class, and ethno-racial status interact and intersect to affect assimilation and integration prospects for new immigrants. The research focuses on Latin American Jewish immigrants in the Northeastern United States, a particularly interesting group to study because they are not easily classified within the American racial and ethnic system and existing ethno-racial categories. As a result, they are presented with a number of ethnic options that they can call upon. The choices they make as well as the constraints they face in making these choices, can broaden our understanding of contemporary immigrant life in America today. Using qualitative data from forty-one in-depth interviews as well as ethnographic research, the study shows how immigrants develop and adopt different ethnic labels as part of their larger sense of ethnic identity. The study finds that Latino Jews have a number of identities to choose from - national identities, Latino, Jewish or panethno-religious (Latino Jewish) and the label or ethnic identity they choose (or are assigned) is often situational and instrumental, yet legitimate. The study also focuses on the construction of panethnicity and a panethnic group identity. Latino Jews develop a panethnic identity through interaction with other in-group members, in an institutional setting such as a community centre or religious organization. Within an institutional or organized site, the exchange of religious customs reinforces a sense of shared history and is a strong factor in the development of a new pan-ethnic identity. Overall, the experience of Latino Jews shows that class and race are important determinants in the construction and instrumentality of ethnicity and ethnic identity for this group of immigrants.  

  • New Portlandia: Rock n' Roll, Authenticity and the Politics of Place in Portland, Oregon

    Author:
    Jeffrey London
    Year of Dissertation:
    2014
    Program:
    Sociology
    Advisor:
    William Kornblum
    Abstract:

    This work is concerned with the situation of indie musicians and their relationship to the urban imaginary of the city of Portland, Oregon. Central to this inquiry is the interplay between music makers and the evolving cultural economy of the city. There are several key issues that arise in Portland for participants in the indie music scene, in the new, high-rent lifestyle city. The regional Northwest ecology of indie rock music and the collective memory of the underground has been brought into the mainstream as an advertisement for the city, an identity for its new residents and for cultural tourism. This commodification of memory threatens the DIY culture and its independent production practices that previously had thrived. The rise in rents and capitalization of space has undermined the potential of small-scale processes of creation and exchange, from which the identity of the city today was derived. The precariousness of work in the digital age hits home for music makers, as their efforts to collectivize and monetize their production creates a bifurcated creative class, as opposed to a rising tide of creativity. Spatial practices surrounding development and the use of the music scene as value pose interesting questions of potential and possibility in the new landscape of artisanal entrepreneurialism. As the television show Portlandia, and its related product lines illustrate, as the imagineered version of the hip city overtakes the lived version, the indie culture's value as part of a growth machine outpaces local quality of life measures, such as availability of work and cost of living in general. Participants use neighborhoods as sites of renegotiation, even with limited resources, and homeownership becomes a major mode of spatial entrenchment in the growth machine city. The dispersed archipelago of music places and networks across the city acts as a buttress against the rising tide of incorporation into capital frameworks seen in distinct Bohemian enclaves. In addition, the potential of digital networks of exchange and communication breathe life into a fragile urban cultural production scene. This work makes a contribution to the sociology of cultural production and the sociology of culture concerning frameworks of identity and spatial change in the new post-industrial city. Codes of authenticity are built up in the tone, technology and practices of the production of musical sound. A new left libertarianism of tiny publics of local goods, especially in the food cart and restaurant scene, have help reestablish spatial practices that embed alternative cultural production, its meanings and practices, in the Portland indie rock framework of authentic local historicity. The threat of the expanding use of space and the value of the music scene as part of the city as a growth machine, especially when the urban growth boundary forces development in close, has threatened the social fabric of creative actors, racial minorities and the working class. Future issues such as the preservation of local cultural identity and collective memory and the notion of artistic communities as a local cultural trust rise to the forefront as artisanal economies and collective networks are left to work to stem the tide of larger capital forces in the new leisure city.

  • Confucius, Yamaha, or Mozart? Cultural Capital and Upward Mobility Among Children of Chinese Immigrants

    Author:
    Wei-Ting Lu
    Year of Dissertation:
    2014
    Program:
    Sociology
    Advisor:
    Philip Kasinitz
    Abstract:

    This study examines the determinants of upward mobility among children of Chinese immigrants. While most studies emphasize ethnic cultural capital as a primary determinant of Chinese upward mobility, this study proposes three new concepts to illuminate understudied processes promoting mobility. Specifically, this study argues that Chinese immigrants' interactions with classical music schools in the Chinese community help generate globalized cultural capital (resources from immigrants' participation in transnational networks), navigational capital (the ability to connect social networks together to facilitate community navigation through higher-status educational institutions) and aspirational capital (the ability of parents to acknowledge the barriers to upward mobility). These music schools offer parents highly valued Western cultural capital in the form of difficult-to-acquire competence in classical music, which parents are promised will help their children gain access to higher-status educational institutions. Parents internalize this valorizing of classical music and believe it will help their children. In addition, Western classical music as a component of Chinese American identity is also reconstructed and blurred through family cultural practice in the local context. Moreover, the competition to climb the educational ladder in the new land encourages Chinese immigrant families to create ethnic identities of hybrid cultural components. This more instrumental acquisition of highly valued cultural capital is a qualitatively different (though not incommensurate) explanation of Chinese upward mobility, which usually centers on Confucian values, retention of Chinese language, and obedience. This study seeks here not to attack the Chinese-values argument, but to argue that institutional factors outside the family are also crucial to understanding Chinese upward mobility.

  • America is Not the Heaven We Dream Of: Race, Gender, and Refugee Status among Liberians in Staten Island, New York

    Author:
    Bernadette Ludwig
    Year of Dissertation:
    2014
    Program:
    Sociology
    Advisor:
    Nancy Foner
    Abstract:

    New York City has long been a destination for immigrants from all over the world. But even within this historical immigrant city, there are some areas that have seen little immigration. Staten Island's North Shore, where thousands of Liberian refugees settled beginning in the mid-1990s, is one of these areas. Based on over three years of ethnographic research and fifty-five interviews with Liberian refugees and immigrants and those working with them, this dissertation examines how a range of social factors, including demographics, immigration status, relationships with natives (ethno-racial minorities as well as Whites), and gender shape the experiences and integration of immigrants in the U.S. In addition, the study illustrates how Liberian refugees respond to these social factors, play an active role in creating new lives in this country, and thus challenging the prevalent images of refugees as victims without agency. This research about Liberians in Staten Island highlights how immigrants' and refugees' experiences are shaped not only by the larger context of reception at the national and city level, but also by the very micro-level local context. This study establishes that the term "refugee" has different meanings and implications depending on its definition and usage. The legal refugee status confers privileges and access to resources while the informal refugee label is only experienced as a stigmatizing burden. Being labeled as "refugees" is not the only "othering" Liberians have encountered in Staten Island. They have also been racialized. While Liberians' experiences with race resemble in some ways those of Black West Indian immigrants, they also differ in significant ways. For example, Liberians' responses and interpretations to racism and discrimination are greatly shaped by their experiences during Liberia's civil war. Liberian women have benefited in a number of ways from their gender--in resettlement, in getting jobs, and, contrary to what many other studies have emphasized, in gaining opportunities for community leadership roles. The women's success in local and Diaspora politics reveals the importance of a transnational perspective, since it has been influenced by the election and popularity of Liberian's president, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf--the first female president of an African country.

  • PARADOXES OF PIETY IN YOUNG MUSLIM AMERICAN WOMEN: PUBLIC PERCEPTION AND INDIVIDUAL REALITIES

    Author:
    Emily Mahon
    Year of Dissertation:
    2013
    Program:
    Sociology
    Advisor:
    Mehdi Bozorgmehr
    Abstract:

    Drawing on both the Pew Research Center's Muslim American Survey of 2007 and a series of original in-depth interviews with young Muslim American women in northern New Jersey, this dissertation seeks to learn more about these women and their motivations for covering and its meaning to them. The theoretical framework for this study begins with Weber's commitment the interplay of religion and society and his perspective of Verstehen, which privileges the perceptions of the subjects. It uses the lenses offered by Goffman and Göle for understanding the strategic uses of stigma; theories of assimilation building from Gordan and Gans to Kasinitz, Mollenkopf, and Waters to Dixon; and the insights of Giddens about the nature of institutional change. The study found that covered women are more likely to attend mosques frequently, to identify as Muslim, to be single, and to be conservative in their religious views (separation of sexes, women cannot lead prayers, scarf is required). The survey finding that most coverers think that Islam does not favor men is echoed in interviewees' argument that "equal" treatment does not mean "same;" they view themselves as feminists who affirm the role of woman at the center of the Muslim family. While not embracing American identity, the interviewees turned away from ancestral culture as either outmoded or oppressive. The Muslim-denseness of their environments gives comfort that dissipates as they bridge to wider spheres. And finally, covering was described repeatedly as a "completion" of self and a reminder of piety to both the outside world and to themselves.

  • A Community of Women: A Model Intervention For Overcoming Poverty and Domestic Violence

    Author:
    Carmella Marrone
    Year of Dissertation:
    2012
    Program:
    Sociology
    Advisor:
    Hester Eisenstein
    Abstract:

    Women and Work is an innovative and holistic approach to workforce development that relies on the power of community to deliver the technical and social skills needed for today's competitive job-market. This study explores the impact of the Women and Work Program on survivors of intimate partner violence, their ability to obtain and retain sustainable employment, and their ability to work towards establishing violence-free lives.

  • WASTING AWAY: SUBSTANCE ABUSE AND HEALTH RISK OUTCOMES AMONG DOMINICAN DEPORTEES

    Author:
    Yolanda Martin
    Year of Dissertation:
    2012
    Program:
    Sociology
    Advisor:
    David Brotherton
    Abstract:

    This is a mixed-methods study conducted among heroin-using deportees in the Dominican capital of Santo Domingo, from 2008 to 2010. The study illustrates how forced mobility in transnational groups can lead to sudden changes in cultural environment, which promote risk-seeking attitudes, such as substance abuse, in the absence of structural checks and balances on high-risk behavior. In this study I adapt Merrill Singer's Syndemics model to illustrate how social isolation, mental health issues, and substance abuse are synergistic forces that aggravate the deportee's risk for serious health conditions. Data were gathered through a combination of (a) participant observation (inside shooting galleries, private homes, and public spaces); (b) life-histories, open-ended (N= 12); and (c) semi-structured interviews (N=120). In order to obtain detailed information about the life trajectory of the returnees, I first conducted participatory observation in various marginalized neighborhoods of Santo Domingo, such as Guachupita, Capotillo, San Carlos, and Villa Juana. Qualitative data served as the foundation for the semi-structured interview protocol. These research tools were used to illustrate pre- and post-removal protective and risk factors, and the subsequent health risk outcomes in the deportee life-course. According to the findings in this study, risk factors that may encourage risk seeking behavior and substance abuse are the lack of positive social networks, lack of financial means of subsistence, lack of adequate health care services, and institutional and structural stigmatization. Additionally, deportation-related trauma heightens the returnee's likelihood to suffer from mental health conditions.