Alumni Dissertations

 

Alumni Dissertations

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  • Ethnic Affinity as a Strategy of Boundary Making and Immigrant Incorporation: A Case Study in the Bronx.

    Author:
    Ervin Kosta
    Year of Dissertation:
    2012
    Program:
    Sociology
    Advisor:
    Cynthia Epstein
    Abstract:

    This dissertation explores the historical development of the `ethnic affinity' between Albanians and Italians within the Italian food trade in New York City. Relying on fieldwork on Arthur Avenue in the Bronx, it examines the current ethno-racial makeup of the former Italian neighborhood, focusing on two related aspects of change: the influx of incoming Albanian immigrants and the transition from a resident neighborhood to a commodified urban space. Engaging recent efforts towards a unified theory of ethnic boundary formation and transformation, this study looks at the group formation strategies of incoming Albanian immigrants, traces the shifting ethnic boundary between them and Italian ethnics from the late 1960s onwards, and argues that Albanian occupational and cultural incorporation constitutes a new strategy of boundary making and immigrant incorporation. Further, this study examines the role of this boundary work on the transformation of Arthur Avenue from an old immigrant neighborhood to an `authentic' shopping enclave of Italian food. Outlining the changes in the neighborhood institutional setup that culminated in the formation of a business improvement district, as well as the transformation of street feste, it outlines the shifting strategy from a residential to a commercial definition of the neighborhood ethnicity, ensuring the remaking of Belmont as a Little Italy despite the residential succession of Italian ethnics by African Americans and Latino immigrant groups in the blocks surrounding the commercial strip.

  • Peasant Rebellions in the Age of Globalization: The EZLN in Mexico and the PKK in Turkey

    Author:
    Mehmet Kucukozer
    Year of Dissertation:
    2010
    Program:
    Sociology
    Advisor:
    Mauricio Font
    Abstract:

    The formerly corporatist/populist states of Mexico and Turkey have faced significant armed peasant-based insurgencies in their post-1980 period of neoliberal reforms. The Zapatista Army of National Liberation (EZLN) in Chiapas, Mexico and the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) in Turkey's southeast serve as ideal case studies in order to deal with long unresolved questions in the literature on peasant rebellions: What is the role of greater capitalist penetration in the growth of these movements? Which peasants are the ones joining these movements? What role do political and militant organizations play in the process of mobilization? Although the literature suggests that there is a correlation between peripheral states/regions and revolutionary movements, this project seeks to make those links more explicit by taking a process-oriented approach to how regions become peripheral and how revolutionary movements emerge. In doing so, I argue that Mexico and Turkey, with respect to the regions in focus, evince a distinct pattern of state building in comparison to European models. The exercise of state power in Chiapas and Turkish Kurdistan has taken on institutionalized patterns. These patterns serve as a backdrop for understanding the ways different kinds of villages have been affected by state power. A basic typology of villages was established in terms of their relationship to the commercial economy, its social structure, and nature of social life. Stories of people who participated in, supported, or witnessed both insurgencies were collected. A small database of PKK insurgents was also created. Together the data indicate that capitalist expansion did not play a primary or direct role in the formation of these insurgencies. Rather, villages where commercial agriculture had not come to dominate were the ones who participated. Such villages also had greater social-class diversity, contributing participants who were mobilized in varied ways. They responded to increasing land tensions, to greater repression from the state and its local allies, and to greater involvement in national politics in the form of leftist organizations building networks in local sites. The EZLN and the PKK were effective at linking themselves to these pre-existing networks. In doing so they built an elaborate organizational capacity.

  • HOW DO DOMESTIC VIOLENCE COURTS WORK? A TEST OF THE IMPACT OF COURT POLICIES ON RECIDIVISM

    Author:
    Melissa Labriola
    Year of Dissertation:
    2013
    Program:
    Sociology
    Advisor:
    Mary Clare Lennon
    Abstract:

    Domestic violence courts typically handle a jurisdiction's domestic violence cases on a separate calendar, presided over by a specially assigned and trained. They arose in response to a number of legal and social developments, in particular, as part of a broader trend towards "problem-solving justice". Problem-solving justice can trace its theoretical roots to innovations in policing, which attempted to replace traditional law enforcement's focus on responding to individual offenses with a focus on addressing patterns of crime and community engagement. Under the rubric of therapeutic jurisprudence, problem-solving courts emerged in the 1990s. This model posits that legal rules and procedures can be used to improve psychosocial outcomes. However, therapeutic jurisprudence is not the only theoretical foundation for problem solving courts. Deterrence theory posits that receipt or threat of a punishment for an infraction will reduce the likelihood that the infraction will be repeated. Using the theoretical lenses of therapeutic jurisprudence and deterrence, I conceptualize the key elements of those theories and test whether policies and procedures adopted by these courts are associated with better outcomes than others. Given the unprecedented number of sites, coupled with the application of sophisticated multi-level modeling techniques, this dissertation asks the fundamental question of how domestic violence courts work. The findings indicate that recidivism reductions are enhanced under some conditions. Substantially advancing the state our knowledge, these analyses point to a greater focus on therapeutic jurisprudence mechanisms, as primary candidates for policy factors that may lead some make domestic violence courts to reduce recidivism more than others. In turn, there are a number of therapeutic jurisprudence and deterrence policies that lead domestic violence courts to increase recidivism as well. This indicates the effectiveness of policies that focus on shared communication, training of outside stakeholders, and accountability mechanisms that are designed and implemented to increase re-arrest when there are reports of assault. The results seem to point to a theoretical model that needs to be tested more to find policies that can be most beneficial to domestic violence offenders and victims of these crimes.

  • ROUNDUP READY NATION: THE POLITICAL ECOLOGY OF GENETICALLY MODIFIED SOY IN ARGENTINA

    Author:
    Amalia Leguizamon
    Year of Dissertation:
    2014
    Program:
    Sociology
    Advisor:
    Kenneth Gould
    Abstract:

    This dissertation is a case study of agrarian transformation in an agro-export society, Argentina. I study the process of adoption of the technological package of genetically modified (GM) soy in the Argentine countryside, its socio-ecological consequences, and Argentines' responses to it. In particular, this research addresses Argentina's unique situation of being a developing country that has positively embraced the biotechnology of GM seeds as a key accumulation strategy without the emergence of major contestation against GM soy monocropping. In order to answer the puzzle of quiescence, I look at how power relations structure access to social and environmental goods and bads, as well as at how power relates to the causes of consensus and conflict. From a critical political economy perspective, in this work I contribute to three major areas of substantive research: (1) Technology and socio-environmental change; (2) Natural resource extraction as a model of neoliberal socioeconomic development for Latin America; and (3) Social movements, in particular rural and environmental movements in the Latin American region. It terms of data collection, I rely on a multi-method approach based on archival research, quantitative analysis, and ethnographic methods (interviewing and participant observation). Whether GM crops can alleviate poverty and address food security while conserving ecosystems remains one of the most divisive questions in contemporary development studies. This dissertation is thus a necessary and timely contribution to debates on agricultural GM biotechnology. More broadly, the aim of this research is to contribute to discussions around the dynamics of agrarian and rural transformations, technological adoption and resistance, and the relationship between ecological modification and social change.

  • 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.  

  • 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.