School of Social and Political Sciences - Theses
Now showing items 1-12 of 348
Digitally altered: making news in the 21st century
Audience research demonstrates that online news has become a dominant source of news in Australia, especially for people under 40 years of age. Australians now obtain their news from online sites – such as Yahoo!7 News and news.com.au – in preference to traditional newspapers. Such sites are very important to the future of news journalism, yet they are vastly understudied – especially in Australia. This thesis, based on a study of a major digital aggregated online news organisation in Australia, Yahoo!7 News, investigated the question: How can the study of an Australian aggregated news site (Yahoo!7 News) contribute to our understanding of digital aggregated news production? This research project collected data from observations at Yahoo!7 News, interviews with the Yahoo!7 newsworkers and a content analysis of the Yahoo!7 News site and the Yahoo!7 social networking platforms (i.e. Facebook and Twitter). The data indicates that there were three dominant issues at Yahoo!7 News related to the role of the newsworkers and newsroom practices, the production of news content and the newsworkers’ perceptions of their audience. Firstly, the newsworkers acted as gatekeepers, tightly controlling the outflow of news by limiting the involvement of the Yahoo!7 News audience with the content they generated. Secondly, success was perceived through a prism of the ‘race to be first’, which caused newsworkers to prioritise and value speed and immediacy. And, finally, the newsworkers felt that their roles as news producers were not as highly valued by the traditional journalists. This thesis will analyse and discuss the implications of the findings from Yahoo!7 News and contribute to extending our understanding of digital aggregated news production.
Matters of Death: The Life of Altars in Contemporary Japan
This thesis examines transforming material relations with the dead in contemporary Japan focused on one artefact of Japanese death culture, the Buddhist altar or butsudan. Butsudan are complex material artefacts with deep histories of religious symbolism that have been a key site for ancestor veneration, Buddhist practice, and connecting with the dead in Japanese homes for many generations. They are also an unstable technology of mediating the dead in Japan. Once present in the vast majority of households, butsudan sales have seriously declined and traditional artisan products are being replaced by modern, fashion-conscious, and secular designs. The progressively marginal position occupied by butsudan in Japanese religious and family life has contributed to a growing sense of unease, if not crisis, within the religious goods industry and temple Buddhism. Decline occurs against a broader backdrop of transformation to Japanese death traditions, precipitated by demographic changes, secularisation, and economic stagnation. In an age of “precarity” (Allison 2013), in which the socio-religious structures once relied upon to secure a good death have significantly weakened, how do relations with the dead proceed? This thesis traces the dynamics by which artefacts of mediating the dead like butsudan emerge, circulate within religious and funerary economies, come to mediate intimate exchanges between the living and the dead, and ultimately fall into disuse. I draw on ethnographic fieldwork with artisans, retailers, consumers, and clergy, including several months working in Buddhist goods companies in Tokyo, Osaka, and Toyama. Attending to the rich details of material practice at the altar, I further elucidate modes of necrosociality beyond memorialisation, in particular, kuyo or veneration, as they operate in contemporary Japan. I suggest that kuyo requires an investment in material forms, either altars or their growing alternatives, which make the absent dead present, facilitating acts of care that are also practices of disposal and disconnection. The contemporary form of butsudan emerges out of collaborative efforts to care for the dead, which are increasingly reliant on commercial actors and which must be balanced with considerations of convenience, economy, and personal taste. The five main body chapters of this thesis trace the life course of butsudan, through sites of their crafting, retail, encounter, disposal, and innovation. This structure illuminates the mutability, and ultimately mortality, of necromaterial forms, which I argue is an increasingly significant factor in how people navigate relationships with the dead in Japan today.This thesis thus contributes to our broader understanding of how absence through death is made sensorially present through the life and death of material culture.
Consultation, Research and Policy Development; Lessons from the Deafblind Community about Co-Creating a More Inclusive World
This thesis reports on the exploration of good practice approaches to consultation, research, policy and service development with Deafblind people. Given the exploratory nature of the study, a multi-phased and multi-modal programme of research was conducted that incorporated both qualitative and quantitative components. The majority of the research programme utilised qualitative methods. The literature was surveyed to ascertain an understanding of the state of the science in the field of Deafblindness in regard to current consultation, research, policy and service development guidelines and practices with Deafblind people and the professionals who support them. The review of the literature sought to determine if there was evidence of a distinct Deafblind culture and community and if so, how this might interact with and affect the social inclusion/exclusion of Deafblind people. Moreover, the literature search investigated whether any co-creation, co-design or emancipatory research involved Deafblind people and the impact of associated complexities and barriers that arise from working with sign language interpreters and other gatekeepers of access to knowledge, such as the professionals in the field of Deafblindness. The review of the literature revealed that the state of the science in the field of Deafblindness is largely still in its infancy and that there is a paucity of literature regarding good practice approaches to consultation, research, policy and service development. To date, research has predominantly focused on biomedical issues and allied-health interventions designed to address barriers to everyday communication on an individual basis. There is a limited literature internationally, and even less in Australia in regard to engaging Deafblind people in community conversations and other forms of inclusive or indeed emancipatory research methodologies, that would enable Deafblind people to contribute to policy and service developments.What little literature there is, was found to be based on semi-structured surveys and post hoc narrative accounts. There was limited evidence of any larger scale community consultation process with the Deafblind community. Consequently, the questions that this research programme asked were: 1) What is current accepted practice in arranging events for, and consulting with people who are Deafblind; 2) How best can sign language and interpreter services be prepared for involvement in consultation and research activities, and more specifically as part of a World Café consultation, and; 3) What knowledge, skills, tools and resources are needed when planning a World Café consultation for people who are Deafblind? The need to engage the lived experiences of Deafblind people and the professional gatekeepers of knowledge creation and transfer in the field of Deafblindness emerged as significant issues that posed multiple challenges. The need for good practice guidelines in regard to how to conduct research and policy consultation with this community emerged as a key priority for both Deafblind people and the professionals providing their support services. Subsequently, a phenomenological approach was used to explore the lived experience of Deafblind people and the professional perspectives of those who provide direct service to this group. The topic of inquiry was explored using a multimodal approach that included individual interviews, World Cafe focus groups and online surveys. The investigation took the form of fourseparate but interconnected studies that enabled Deafblind people and the professionals in the field to participate in the research, and also to contribute to the development of a good practice framework by evaluating the research process. The four studies were: Study 1) Preparing for inclusive consultation, research and policy development -insights from the field of Deafblindness; Study 2) Working with Deafblind people to develop a good practice approach to consultation and research activities; Study 3) Co- creating a more inclusive world - lessons from professionals in the field of Deafblindness, and; Study 4)Navigating research, policy and consultation processes involving people with diverse communication and support needs - insights from Deafblind sign language interpreters. The overall findings and recommendations were: 1) World Café methodology can be tailored to be a culturally safe, valid and trustworthy approach to seeking the experiences, opinions, skills and expertise of the Deafblind community; 2) World Café facilitators should seek to gain close relationships with CALD and disability groups by becoming insiders to the community, and culturally immersed in them over an extended period of time; 3) The Deafblind community could benefit from ongoing exposure to the epistemological perspective of Appreciative Inquiry at the level of consultation, research, policy, service delivery and clinical contexts; 4) Interpreters and professionals in the field of Deafblindness could benefit from training in research methodology and theory. Academics seeking to research the Deafblind community should obtain skills, knowledge and experience with Deafblind culture, community and sign language; 5) The Deafblind community could benefit from co-creating and designing research workshops that seek to inform, educate and train community members in theory, methodology and projects that have real- world/practical applications, and; 6) The “I Learn Share Model” could be extended to include Appreciative inquiry, co-creation, co-design and emancipatory principles by promoting a critical and participatory consciousness within the Deafblind community of “we inquire, we share, we learn, we create, we design and we implement”. This research has demonstrated that the inclusion of, and engagement with Deafblind people in the generation of new knowledge for the purposes of research and policy development is possible. The programme of research documented in this thesis demonstrates how this can best be achieved in ways that are scientifically robust and culturally appropriate.
Ceasefires as Statebuilding
Current academic and applied research on ceasefires overwhelmingly focuses on their capacity to halt violence or ability to lead to a peace agreement. This thesis takes a broader view by arguing that ceasefires are rarely only a “cease fire”. Rather it reconceptualises ceasefire agreements as the codification of a certain military and political state of affairs during wartime. The fact of their codification and the power-dynamics they represent creates a particular type of wartime order that recalibrates relationships and contestations for power and authority on the ground. Illustrated with examples of ceasefires from the Syrian civil war, this dissertation uses key informant interviews with Syrians with first-hand knowledge of ceasefires and conflict and humanitarian specialists to argue that ceasefires have the ability not only to affect violence but other statebuilding dynamics such as governance institutions and economic networks, property and citizenship rights and authority over diplomacy and security. The core of the thesis comprises four peer-reviewed journal articles that think through these different statebuilding implications of ceasefires in civil war. As such, the thesis has relevance not only for academia but also for peace and policy-makers. This is because if we move beyond seeing ceasefires as simply a military tool to better understanding the diverse effects they can have on the ground, we can better manage the negotiation process and power dynamics inherent in any presumably post-conflict environment.
On the Way Home: Christian Migrants and the Liturgical Self
This thesis tells the stories of Christian migrants who all go to church in the same suburb in the north of Melbourne. It explores the ways in which their faith journey and migration story are intertwined and seeks to show how the stories they tell echo the themes Christians rehearse when they remember, re-enact, and re-tell key biblical narratives. Using Pierre Bourdieu’s concept of habitus and the work of theologian James K. A. Smith, I frame this remembering, re-enacting, and re-telling as ‘liturgical practice’. This liturgical practice is not limited to the formal wording of the church service but includes the habits of everyday church life and the faithful practices of Christians in their everyday lives. Smith’s articulation of liturgical practice owes much to Bourdieu’s conception of habitus, and I seek to draw the two concepts into conversation as I reflect on the migration stories my participants told me. The liturgical frame adds two facets to habitus; first, it is explicitly tied to a sacred text, and second, it is used to decode what people love and value rather than decoding power relations. I hope that this reading of the lives of migrant Christians contributes to re-shaping the way we talk about and ascribe value to the lived experience and emotional expressions of migrants in Australia. This thesis shows how the stories Christian migrants tell about their journeys reflect the stories they know from faithful practice: for example, that they learn how to wait through stories of waiting for Jesus’ birth and second coming, that they learn about the significance of the body through the story of the incarnation, or that they learn about valuing suffering through the stories of wilderness experiences. Using this native framework to interpret the everyday practices of church life and the life stories of migrants helps identify the differences and draw attention to the continuities between three very different congregations. It shows how Australia is not the final end point or resolution of these journeys, but that waiting, suffering, and joy continue. Every Christian, but perhaps most especially the Christian migrant, is always on the way home.
Family Violence as State Crime: A new framework for theory, practice, and remedy
Family violence is the most prevalent form of violence worldwide, and is overwhelmingly perpetrated by men against women and children. In recent years, Australia has been a leader in the global movement to give this problem the attention it deserves, including through the establishment of the Victorian Royal Commission into Family Violence. Yet in both mainstream and academic discourse, family violence continues to be understood through a narrow lens: framed as a problem of individual perpetrators and harmful cultural norms and attitudes. In these accounts, the historical, structural, and institutional dimensions of male violence in the family remain largely obscured. The notion of institutional or state complicity in family violence has received inadequate attention, and family violence has not been comprehensively investigated, identified, or theorised as a state crime. Through a transdisciplinary approach to data analysis and theory-building, this study integrates and extends material from diverse fields including criminology, state crime, transitional justice, international law, and radical feminist politics, in order to generate new insights and build new theory around state crime and family violence. The central argument of this thesis is that family violence constitutes a state crime, and towards this central argument, I offer a number of related contributions. I contribute to the development of state crime methodologies by constructing an analytical framework for identifying state complicity through the operation of state institutions. I then demonstrate the application of this framework to identify state complicity in family violence through three state institutions in Australia and comparable international contexts: the criminal justice system, family law, and state-based social services. Through examining family violence policy, practice, and ideology in the operation of these institutions, I identify state complicity in family violence across the spectrum of state criminality: ranging from passive bystander to active agent, participant and direct perpetrator. My central contribution is a comprehensive theoretical framework for understanding family violence as state crime. Through a unified multi-component feminist model, I propose a way of conceptualising the complementary patriarchal harms that, together, position family violence as a state crime. Specifically, the framework identifies and theorises the state structural and state institutional dimensions of family violence which function in a mutually-reinforcing manner to produce and reproduce the harm. Based on this framework, I then reflect on the implications that emerge from conceptualising family violence as a state crime. Through a diverse toolkit for family violence state crime justice, I offer a reconsidered approach to addressing the harm by drawing on insights from transitional justice and redress frameworks for other state crimes. The investigative, acknowledgement, accountability, remedy, and prevention measures I propose aim to address family violence more thoroughly by accounting for the central role of states and institutions in family violence. Ultimately, I argue that genuine progress in addressing family violence can only be achieved by acknowledging the state’s responsibility for the harm. Understanding family violence through a state crime lens and recognising its embeddedness in the historical, structural, and institutional landscape then enables the imagination and design of more appropriate responses to the problem.
We're all managers now: the discursive influence of management consultants
Over the last century, management consulting has enjoyed a meteoric rise. As part of this, consultants have, more and more, become key actors in modern governance systems. This has led academic and non-academic authors alike to explore how much influence consultants have over public policy. As part of this, consultants are seen to exert influence by introducing private sector ideas to assist public sector managers resolve pressing organisational and social challenges. Current scholarship, however, tends to downplay the more discursive aspects of consultant influence. To address this gap, this thesis is fundamentally a discursive study of the policy influence of management consultants. Its main argument is that consultants can draw on a repertoire of discursive mechanisms (ideas, identity, narratives, and metaphor) to influence other policy actors in a coalition. At the same time, these other actors can resist the ideas, narratives, metaphors, and discourses that consultants supply. The crucial factor here, and the contribution of the thesis, is what I refer to as interpretive frames. An interpretive frame is a collection of pre-conceived ideas, interests, and identities that a coalition uses to understand and interpret the policy world around it. They influence what should be done in response to pressing social challenges, as well as the steps, actions, or processes that are needed to do so. In addition, the formal rules and structures in a policy process also govern and constrain consultants’ ability to be influential. Thus, consultants will be more influential on a coalition when their discursive repertoire demonstrates a discursive affinity with the interpretive frame of a coalition. Here, consultants can exercise agency in the strategic choices they make about which discourses to reproduce, and how. At the same time, their ability to do so is highly constrained - within a coalition’s interpretations, as well as by institutional rules and structures.
A practical critique of social-scientific reason in the historical study of crime: the politics of historical criminology and its place in the historiography of crime and criminal justice
Significant conceptual, professional and institutional developments have taken place over the last fifty years or so at the crossroad of criminology and history that deserve critical scrutiny and examination. From the consolidation of a historiography of crime and criminal justice to the emergence of a historical criminology, the shaping of a historical dimension to the study of crime signals at once a ‘historical turn’ in criminology and a social-scientific turn in historical scholarship. Though historical sociology provides a plausible justification for both of these – incomplete – turns through the notion of a historical social science – which can be defined as a movement towards history ‘as’ social science and a movement towards history ‘in’ social science – it is analytically limiting to reduce crime historians and historical criminologists to sociological objects. Instead, it is possible to make sense of those who participate in the historical study of crime as political subjects and of crime histories and criminological histories as forms of political practice and modes of political participation. Borrowing from Hans-Georg Gadamer’s proposal for a social science modelled on the basis of Aristotelian practical philosophy, the thesis advances a practical critique of social-scientific reason in the historical study of crime and explores historical criminology’s current hopes in the historiography of crime and criminal justice. An intellectual field and academic space decidedly theoretical, that is, apolitical and ‘indifferent to the present’, the historical study of crime is presently witnessing the emergence of a historical criminology that claims to be conductive to practical knowledge, to knowledge that is present-oriented and politically useful. In the context of a rather ambiguous encounter between crime historians and historical criminologists, then, this thesis develops a practical discourse around historical criminology with the aim of problematizing the uses of history for the study of crime and of casting additional light on some of the social and political implications of doing social science while making use of history.
Youth, recession, and the buffering role of institutions: a cross-country comparison
How do labour market and education institutions affect youth’s initial or early labour market outcomes during a recession compared to the pre-recession period? Does the impact of institutions on youth’s labour market outcomes during a recession vary across different types of youth? These questions are at the heart of this dissertation which brings together both economic and sociological literature to develop a model of individual youth adjustment in response to a recession. My central assumption is that youth respond to a recession by trading-off the quality work attained, in terms of occupational status or job security, to reduce time spent in unemployment. Although all individuals are expected to make this trade-off to some extent, both the ability and willingness to trade-off the quality of work as well as the expected benefits from doing so, are likely to be influenced by a range of individual and country level characteristics. At the individual level, characteristics such as gender, family income and, in turn, educational attainment will influence whether individuals have the resources or inclination to extend their job search period and hold out for higher quality work. At the national level, a number of education and labour market characteristics will determine the range and quality of work available to individual youth and the level of competition they will face in securing this work, both generally and in a recession. I bring these individual and institutional components together to compare youth employment outcomes across the pre-recession to post-recession period, considering outcomes such as 1) employment, 2) work type (i.e. full-time or temporary) and 3) occupational status. These outcomes are explored across three chapters using EU-SILC longitudinal data for up to 19 countries, over the period 2003 to 2015 for secondary and postsecondary educated youth. The first chapter explores the impact of labour market institutions on youth employment and full-time work participation, considering the effect of adaptive (i.e. collective bargaining) compared to static (i.e. Employment Protection Legislation) forms regulation over the business cycle. The second analysis chapter considers the role of family income on initial full-time work attainment, exploring how these family income effects vary according to the level of tracking and education quality within an education system. Finally, I examine the impact of gender on full-time and non-standard work attainment, considering the moderating role of education tracking and gender empowerment, both generally and during a recession. Institutions are shown to play a key role in shaping youth responses to a recession, with these effects moderated by individual characteristics. Chapter 2 illustrates the adaptive nature of collective bargaining institutions, with significantly different institutional effects observed between the pre- and post-recession periods. This results in benefits to youth in terms of employment and full-time work attainment where bargaining coverage is broader. Family income is found to play an important role in youth responses to a recession, as shown in Chapter 3, with family income effects increasing where the level of tracking in education is high, particularly during a recession. At the same time, increasing education quality weakens, the effect of family income, benefiting youth from lower-income backgrounds. Chapter 4 lends support to demand-side theories of gender segregation, with male youth appearing to hold a stronger position in the labour market. This is used to trade-down into traditionally female roles during a recession, crowding-out women from full-time work. Additionally, both Chapters 3 and 4 highlight the role of vocation-specific education in segmenting the labour market, with the differential skills provided creating an effective barrier to ‘trading-down’ during a recession, protecting those with weaker positions within the jobs queue.
The making of masculinities: gender performances and reimagined sexual decision-making among heterosexual men in Northern Thailand
Research has found that gender is not biological; rather, it is a social construction (Butler, 1993; Connell, 1995); gender performances are thus continuously constructed through everyday interactions, discourses, and institutions. Drawing on one year of ethnographic fieldwork, this thesis analyses men’s constructions of manhood through sexual decision-making within the backdrop of Northern Thailand, a vibrant and emerging socio-scape where the traditional interlaces with the transnational. First, this research describes the various means through which men assert sexuality to perform hegemonic and non-hegemonic masculinities. Next, this thesis shows that men negotiate their gender identities through homosociality, often emphasizing sexuality to perform manhood within and for homosocial circles. This thesis then discusses women’s complex roles in enabling and challenging men’s performances of masculinities, arguing that relationality is a vital aspect of masculine performances. Finally, this research demonstrates that digital technologies have enabled Thai individuals to negotiate their gender performances in accordance with a range of global gender ideologies. Through an examination of these factors, this research contends that gender equality can be improved by Thai men and women through reconstructing gender performances; thus, one-on-one sexual interactions serve as sites where gendered relationships are re-imagined.
Political economy of electoral systems: electoral disproportionality, its measurement and its effect on economic inequality in democracies
Political parties represent social classes with conflicting interests. Electoral systems have direct and indirect consequences for the parties’ access to the decision-making power. A major outcome of the distribution of political power among parties is the distribution of economic resources between competing social groups. Contributing to a growing body of empirical work on the fiscal outcomes of the electoral systems, this study examines the nature of the relationship between the electoral systems and the level of economic inequality in representative democracies. This question is examined through cross-country comparisons on a global scale using cross-sectional and longitudinal data and various statistical methods. This study uses ‘electoral disproportionality’ as a widely-popularized continuous metric to distinguish between electoral systems. Electoral disproportionality maybe broadly defined as the deviation of the post-election party seat-shares in a parliament and the pre-election composition of the party preferences of the voting age population. As its first major step, this study proposes a new index (called 𝐷a for measuring electoral disproportionality to addresses certain disadvantages of the existing indices. In real elections, parties adjust their campaign strategies in part in anticipation of the implications of the electoral rules for their chance of success. Similarly, citizens tactically adjust their voting decisions to maximize the impact of their vote or choose not to vote at all. Commonly, electoral disproportionality is calculated empirically using the outcomes of the past elections. However, due to the behavioural adjustments of the parties and voters, the use of election data often results in an overestimation or underestimation of electoral disproportionality. To eschew the adverse effect of behavioural adjustments on the measurement of electoral disproportionality, this study, as its second major step, introduces and operationalises the novel concept of systemic electoral disproportionality. It also develops a methodology based on computer simulation for the measurement of systemic disproportionality. This measurement technique, offers the capability to decompose systemic electoral disproportionality between the various components of an electoral system (districting, electoral formula, thresholds, etc.). At its third major step, using the proposed measurement technique and index, this research, for the first time, produces data on the current level of systemic electoral disproportionality in 92 democracies around the world. Finally, and as its fourth major step, this research uses the generated dataset of systemic electoral disproportionality in several statistical modellings covering the period 1978 to 2015 to study the relationship between the electoral systems and income inequality. OLS, fixedeffects and between effects regression models are utilized to test the hypotheses. Results of the worldwide cross-country comparisons indicate that increase in systemic electoral disproportionality does not aggravate the level of net income inequality per se. Instead, as democracies mature, the level of systemic electoral disproportionality aligns with the level of diversification of the party system. The latter is shown to be in relationship with cross-country variation in the level of inequality of the disposable income. Findings emphasize the role of party diversification as a causal nexus between the type of the electoral system and the level of economic inequality.
BigData: Can virtue ethics play a role?
Big Data is a term for masses of information that is usually heterogeneous, usually from multiple sources, in multiple formats and at a scale of at least terabytes, and often substantially larger. It may be a data stream, or an assemblage of exiting large, not necessarily homogeneous datasets; both often contain large personal data content and thus can invoke ethical issues. As a result of rapid disintermediation of wide areas of the economy and daily life, and the growing data and information intensity that has both enabled this and is creating many fresh forms of Big Data on a real time basis, it is important to ensure that the implications are understood by the communities affected. This had not occurred until recently in the areas of government surveillance (Mathews & Tucker, 2014), and when it did had a massive impact across the world. Expectations were changed (See Fig.1) and the emergent power asymmetries emphasized. Concerns over the ethical and power implications are now reverberating, with Australia moving to consolidate ever stronger asymmetric information powers over the community (http://www.aph.gov.au/Parliamentary_Business/Bills_Legislation/Bills_Search _Results/Result?bId=s969), and the term ‘Snowden Effect’ has now achieved currency (https://freesnowden.is/frequently-asked-questions/).