School of Social and Political Sciences - Theses
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Preserving Turkishness in the daily life of Broadmeadows
This dissertation investigates how Turks endeavour to preserve their cultural identity while living in Australia. Based on research carried out between 2013 and 2017 in Broadmeadows, a suburb of Melbourne and historic centre for the resettlement of Turkish immigrants, the dissertation explores a number of themes which frame each chapter: nostalgia for the homeland and for the earlier times of arrival; overseas marriages; gossip and rumour; Turkish film and television; return visits to Turkey; multiculturalism and integration; and homeland politics. Consonant with the ethnographic approach deployed, these themes were selected on the bases of what research informants identified as being especially important and meaningful aspects of their lives in diaspora. However, while eschewing a central argument, the thesis reflects on how these themes relate directly or indirectly to matters of cultural preservation and very widespread anxieties that Turkish-Australians have about losing their culture. The dissertation’s author is clinically blind. So, whilst the issue of blindness is not a conscious concern in the dissertation, it is framed by a blind sensibility. It relies upon the author’s capacity for listening, rather than being, as per convention for anthropological work, observational. And, its data and findings are conditioned significantly by the way Turkish people conceptualise and treat blind people and this author in particular.
The Embeddedness of Policy Learning in Reform-Oriented Policy Change: The Case of Indonesian Public Administration Reform
Governments around the world have undertaken extensive programs of public administration reform. While such reform is intended to achieve specific, practical outcomes, it may also involve policy learning. Scholars have investigated the conceptual relationship between reform and policy learning, but there is a lack of empirical research into the causal mechanisms that explain this relationship. This thesis seeks to contribute to the understanding of reform-oriented policy learning, drawing theoretical insights from the fields of politics, public policy, and public administration. Its central question is: To what extent does policy learning facilitate policy change in shaping the trajectory of public administration reform? The thesis conducts an in-depth, comparative case analysis of two pieces of Indonesian legislation intended to reform public administration: the 2014 Civil Service Law (UU no. 5/2014) and the 2014 Government Administration Law (UU no. 30/2014). The ratification of these two laws marked a significant move away from the existing paradigms of Indonesian public administration, influenced by NPM and NPS paradigms layered on top of the old ways of public administration and patronage. This thesis compares the processes by which these two laws were proposed, negotiated and resolved in their ongoing processes of institutionalisation. Drawing on this analysis, the thesis describes the dynamic relationship between structure, institution and agency in shaping the reform trajectory, and analyses the role of path dependence in explaining the reform sequence; the importance of antecedent conditions; and the role of cumulative causation in the interaction between structural persistence, reactive sequence and reform outcomes. The thesis argues that reform-oriented policy learning is inherently political and contextually dependent; and thus, that it can be best understood as a multi-level phenomenon, whereby structure, institution and agency interact simultaneously to shape the reform trajectory. The thesis presents three key findings. The first is that policy learning involves distinct types and levels of learning. Thus, the thesis identifies the micro-foundations of learning, individual learning, collective learning and learning aggregation in the interdependent relationship between structure, institution and agency. The second is that policy learning is both an influence on, and a product of institutional change: policy learning is found in the mechanisms of change, which involve both exogenous and endogenous pressures for reform, the distinction between formal and informal change, and the feedback mechanisms that are produced by (and influence) change. The third is that policy learning is evident throughout the successive stages of the reform process; different aspects of policy learning shape the reform trajectory in different ways. The analysis of the reform trajectory and policy learning presented in this thesis provides the foundations for new theoretical work that connects structure, institution and agency in a more dynamic relationship. The thesis develops a model for analysing how reform-oriented policy learning occurs during the reform process, and how it shapes the reform trajectory. The study makes a major contribution to the public administration literature and provides important lessons for governmental practice.
The Drone Interface: A Relational Study of U.S. Drone Violence in Afghanistan
This thesis examines lived experiences of military drone violence, finding out about the lives of people who live(d) in areas of drone surveillance and bombardment in Afghanistan and veterans of the U.S. Air Force’s drone program. More specifically, it seeks to understand the relations between these two groups of people and the effects of these relations. To this end, it draws on interviews undertaken in Afghanistan, refugee camps in Greece and the United States in 2017, wherein interviewees were asked about the effects of drone violence on their lives and how they experience their relation to the person(s) on the other side of the drone. The project is informed by Feminist and Postcolonial International Relations/Security Studies and these fields’ insights on war and violence. As such, it not only recognises that ordinary people are significant actors in war, it also approaches the global North and global South as internally related to each other. Developing the concept of the ‘drone interface’, this thesis firstly argues for the necessity of a relational approach to the study of drone violence. The drone interface refers to the conduits – both technological and non-technological – that shape social relations between people on either side of the drone (and in turn are shaped by them). Applying the concept of the drone interface allows researchers to begin with the premise that U.S. Air Force drone personnel and people living under drones in Afghanistan have the power to affect each other. Analytically, this relational approach is necessary to better understand drone violence and its effects and implications in international relations. Politically, a relational approach uncovers a far wider range of harms inflicted in drone violence than is currently acknowledged in most academic and civil society scholarship on drones. These harms are produced in the relations between people operating and targeted by drones and are therefore missed in non-relational accounts. A relational account thus provokes a more persuasive normative critique of the use of U.S. drone surveillance and attacks than has been as-yet articulated. Second the thesis contends that the social relations between U.S. Air Force drone personnel and Afghan people experiencing drone violence need to be understood as relations of domination. These relations of domination I argue, produce and reproduce harms such as racism, sexism, poverty and alienation at the level of the domestic and the international. That is, drone violence not only (re)produces racism, sexism, poverty and alienation in international relations, it also compounds racist, patriarchal and capitalist relations within Afghanistan and the United States.
The effects of public voluntary regulation in developing country contexts: comparing regulatory performance across sectors and firms in Indonesia
In recent decades, governments worldwide have embraced public voluntary regulation as a non-mandatory regulatory strategy with the aim of improving socio-environmental performance in business. While such non-mandatory approaches to government regulation originated in North America and Europe, they have also been employed by a range of developing country governments, raising questions about the capacity of public voluntary regulation to function in developing country contexts. Existing regulatory scholarship has not yet developed a systematic framework for understanding how and why the effects of public voluntary regulation vary across different countries, sectors and firms, and if and how public voluntary regulators can adapt regulatory strategies to accommodate variation in such multiple dimensions of institutional context. This thesis aims to answer these questions by investigating how the capacity of public voluntary regulation to improve socio-environmental performance in regulated companies is mediated by varied institutional contexts. Analysis draws on a qualitative study of a prominent public voluntary regulatory program in Indonesia—PROPER (Industrial Environmental Rating Program). Drawing on empirical findings from extensive in-country field research together with theoretical insights on public voluntary regulation, political economy, environmental governance and CSR; the thesis presents a comparative analysis of how the PROPER program operated across two contrasting sectors (oil and gas and palm oil), and across state-owned and private firms. Findings indicate there is significant potential for public voluntary regulation to improve socio-environmental performance within the distinctive context of a developing country. However, specific regulatory strategies and their effects are shown to be highly sensitive to country, sectoral and firm contexts. Analysis identifies three key contextual factors that played a key role in the extent to which PROPER was able to improve socio-environmental performance: (1) the degree of pressure from third-party firm stakeholders (such as NGOs, communities, investors or consumers); (2) the sensitivity of firm management to government pressure, which depended in turn on the degree of discretionary power that government could exercise over firm managers through corporate governance arrangements and/or political patronage networks; and (3) the capacity and incentives of government to provide technical assistance to firms. These factors are shown to vary significantly between industrial sectors, and between private and state-owned firms, which in turn influenced the Indonesian regulatory environment. Findings also highlight the distinctive ways in which Indonesian regulators adapted public voluntary regulatory strategies to the Indonesian context—relying much more on informal, discretionary sources of state authority, than ‘background threats’ of formal regulation, on which much prior regulatory scholarship has focused. These findings are shown to have significant implications for both the theory and practice of public voluntary regulation in developing countries.
Women Politicians, Gender, Nation, and Democratisation: A Political Ethnography of Serbia and Kosovo
This is an ethnography of women politicians in the ‘politically sensitive environments’ (Browne and McBride, 2015, p. 34) of Serbia and Kosovo/a. It investigates the ways in which women imagined, constructed, and politicised national and gender identities as they actively engaged with politics in the context of the as yet understudied process of democratisation. This research highlights a profound paradox. In navigating between national and gender identities and everyday work in the nationalist contexts of Serbia and Kosovo/a, women politicians attained a certain degree of agency and emancipation. Despite the ongoing context of democratisation, however, the discourse remained fundamentally patriarchal and, therefore, subordinating for women. Even as they centred themselves in the present democratic political context, women continued to draw on the primordial and ancient elements of their ethnies/nations in the form of blood, roots, myths, symbols, and rituals as a means of politicising their own positions. In order to prove their invaluable contributions to their ethnies/nations, women politicised traditional gender roles and narratives. I argue that the lack of recognition and the continued undervaluing of women’s contributions have influenced the politicisation of gender and national identities in the process of democratisation and steered women towards the hierarchical organisation of ethnie over gender identity. Women politicians predominantly politicised their biological roles as reproducers, mothers, sisters, educators, and contributors to the ethnie in pursuit of greater gender equality with their men. The ongoing democratisation process in the Western Balkans opened space for greater political participation of women. It did not, however, automatically make this political space safe. Traditional gender and ethnie roles as well as patriarchal narratives still dominated political space and affected women’s political strategies. For these reasons, women are constantly required to negotiate between different ethnie and gender demands in order to survive in politics.
Egalitarianism, Deliberation and Technoscience: Reimagining Equality in a Postcolonial Democracy
Political theory in recent times have been confronted with two substantive challenges. On one hand while normative or analytic philosophy has come under criticism for being too abstract and devoid of any practical significance, the post-structural variety has not been able to proceed further beyond the critique of political institutions, specially of the liberal democratic form. While the former has to contend with the charge of an ethics-first approach that does not work in the real world of politics, the latter is handicapped by its inability to frame coherent political and normative frameworks. This dissertation attempts to bridge the divide by working with a recent tradition of democratic realism within the confines of liberal democratic theory. While doing so, it examines the ideas of development, security and resistance in the postcolonial context through the lens of India’s nuclear program. Much of the analysis of these issues have come from the standpoint of critiques of these ideas in contemporary times. Even though those analysis have provided us insights, previously unappreciated, they have not been successful in theorizing about the way forward. This dissertation is both a descriptive as well as a normative attempt to look at those issues with the aim of thinking beyond critique. It proceeds in three distinct parts where in i)using theory of democratic realism it seeks to argue how we need to go beyond the various critiques of development, ii) how Hume inspired moral sentimentalism can be re-imagined to extricate ourselves from the binaries of liberalism and nationalism and lastly, iii)using Stanley Cavell and Ranciere try to conceptualize the legitimacy and importance of subaltern resistance in democratic politics.
‘Framing’ Negotiation: Participant perspectives on industry-Indigenous agreement-making in the resource extraction context
This thesis examines industry-Indigenous agreement-making with a focus on the diamond mine industry in Northern Canada. Agreement-making is posited as a platform for Indigenous voices and viewpoints, a mechanism to generate greater Indigenous autonomy in land and resource decision-making. To date, evaluations of agreement-making and its potential to engender autonomy, have mostly concentrated on parameters set by legal and policy architectures, and on outcome evaluation. Structural parameters and contextual factors at the meso political level are drawn into and inform negotiation as the ‘microprocess’ that shapes interaction and the outcomes produced. Despite this, insufficient attention is paid to parties’ engagement ‘on the ground’. This thesis helps to fill this gap. It contends that negotiation, namely parties’ actual interaction, is a critical site of agreement-making’s transformative potential. This study defines autonomy as agency and authorship within engagements. Arguably, ‘meaningful negotiation’ - being an equality of standing and opportunity for Indigenous voices and viewpoints - is required for this form of autonomy to be realised. ‘Meaningful negotiation’ must provide a generative platform in which parties can assert their values, understandings and practices and where these diverge, an ability to accommodate polysemy. The history of Indigenous-settler engagements reveals significant challenges in bringing about ‘meaningful negotiation’. Past settler-Indigenous engagements over land and resources have marginalised Indigenous peoples. These precedents reveal the imposition of Anglo-settler values, understandings and practices and unequal relations of power between these groups. Indigenous peoples have struggled to assert their autonomy through historic treaties and the formal recognition of international and domestic rights and recognition. Contemporary agreement-making has arisen to mediate ongoing settler-Indigenous conflict over land and resources. Proponents locate agreement-making within a valued ‘politics of recovery’ to contest and transform the status quo. Others, informed by settler-colonial and critical Indigenous theory, explicitly reject it as ‘redefining without reforming’. This thesis adopted a participant-based case study of the Impact Benefit Agreements of the diamond mining industry in the Northwest Territories, Canada. It examined the negotiation space through participant accounts, drawing on 28 qualitative interviews and primary and secondary document analysis. Its conceptual approach was informed by frame theory; ‘frames’ map where divergences arise and how these are mediated between the ‘sides’ negotiating. The study finds a number of factors worked to inhibit ‘meaningful negotiation’. This revealed itself as an inability to accommodate the most extreme points of divergence in values, understandings and practices. While some participants perceived the potential for greater autonomy within the negotiations of industry-Indigenous agreement-making, this proved contingent on the nature and scope of these divergences and their respective prospects for mediation.
A comparative analysis of the normative power of the EU and China
This thesis examines how the normative power of China compares to that of the European Union (EU). It seeks to contribute to the literature on normative power through the incorporation of interests in the analysis of normative power, the systematic examination of China’s normative power, and case studies of multilateral institutions in which multiple actors exercise normative power. This thesis examines normative power through an analytical framework comprising three core components: norms, diffusion mechanisms, and outcomes of norm diffusion. It applies this framework to the EU and China to assess whether these two actors possess normative power in global governance. It studies the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) and the Paris Agreement (PA) to investigate how the EU and China exercise normative power in multilateral institutions. It also examines how these two actors address their norm divergence through compromise in the AIIB and the PA and the outcomes of their compromises in these two institutions. In addition to comparing the norms, diffusion mechanisms, and outcomes of norm diffusion of the EU and China, this thesis compares the two case studies of the AIIB and the PA. It argues that both the EU and China are predominantly driven by their own interests in their exercise of normative power. It demonstrates the centrality of interests in all three core components of normative power, namely norms, diffusion mechanisms, and outcomes.
Modernity, Sociality and the Enigma of Justice
This thesis is an inquiry into the enigmatic idea of Justice. Like all foundational ideas, justice is subject to increasing tension as a result of competing interpretations of the ‘good’ in modernity and sociality and plurality in all its forms. This creates the enigmatic quality of justice which resides on the one hand in a proliferation of theories of justice which are irreducible and incommensurate and on the other, a hollowing out or fraying of any overarching idea of justice. Justice for this thesis is theorised within broader social rather than usual political frameworks and is situated between formal and contextual approaches and always contains an ethical orientation. This idea of justice is inclusive of both transcendent foundational and immanent regulative moments, which ultimately are not resolvable, which informs the enigmatic quality of justice, related finally to the openness of justice. In drawing out this enigmatic quality, this thesis focuses on early modern and contemporary approaches from Kant and Hegel to Heller and Honneth. The choice of theorists is related to the conceptual dialogue between their varying interpretations of modernity, sociality and their relationship to the idea of justice. This dialogue highlights key theoretical architecture from the earlier theorists, which resonates in the contemporary theories. Most notably, the continuum between form and context and between what I refer to as the ‘pivot points’ of justice, including the subject and their sociality, the right and the good, form and content, contingency and teleology framed within the overarching concepts of western modernity, freedom and value plurality. In developing this dialogue, I identify a number of under-theorised elements, leading to the argument that justice in contemporary modernity must include regulative moments or elements which allow for the negotiation of immanent empirical problems. The idea of justice is however, neither exhausted nor limited to the horizon of the present and always gestures beyond immanence to the immediate future or the distant future. I argue this immanent and transcendent dimension is internal to the idea of justice itself. I also argue that while the enigmatic quality of justice will remain, it may be mediated by mobilising key concepts from both Kant and Hegel which have been updated and modified by Heller and Honneth. The outcome of these updated ideas is that justice as an idea in contemporary modernity can be theorised as 'open', closely aligned to freedom and positioned between and drawing upon immanence and transcendence.
Motherhood Statements: A discursive institutionalist analysis of the implementation of breastfeeding policy in Victoria
This thesis investigates the role of discourse in policy implementation in policymaking contexts characterised by few formal policy institutions. It does this by analysing the case study of the implementation of breastfeeding policy in the state of Victoria, using a discursive institutionalist framework specifically adapted for understanding policy implementation. Data about the case study was gathered through review of a corpus of breastfeeding policy documents and through semi-structured interviews with 19 key implementers of breastfeeding policy. The interview data was processed using a mixed deductive inductive coding approach based on grounded theory. The data was analysed through the lens of Schmidt’s (2008, 2011) discursive institutionalism, incorporating concepts from implementation theory. Several significant findings resulted from the data analysis. Firstly, it was found that in policymaking contexts with a few formalised policy institutions, discourse produces new institutions which mould how actors implement policy. The two types of new institution which have emerged in the Victorian breastfeeding sector are breastfeeding policy – an intertextual construct produced through the interrelationships of the mass of texts used by implementers – and the role descriptions of the non-public service actors involved in implementing breastfeeding policy. The findings showed these roles could be formalised, as in job descriptions of healthcare professionals, or informal, as in norms about being a good mother. Secondly, it was found that informal institutions are discursively arranged into relationships with each other, where one group defined by an institution is allowed to act in prescribed ways towards another group defined by an institution. The relationships between these groups are therefore power relations, and emerge out of attempts to solve the ‘problem’ of women failing to establish or maintain breastfeeding – a problem which is constituted by a conflict between individuals’ experiences and discursive ideals. As actors attempt to solve this problem, ideational structures proliferate in the form of narratives which explain the problem and proffer solutions to it. However, sometimes these narratives conflict with each other, producing additional discursive problems which must then be solved in turn. The most common solution to these problems involved prescribing courses of actions two institutionally defined groups may take with respect to each other. Further, it was found that, in addition to Schmidt’s (2008, 2011) identification of ‘communicative’ and ‘coordinative’ discourses, a ‘public’ discourse could be identified, where actors in the public sphere (who may be media figures or members of the public) speak to political actors about public policy, its purpose, and its effectiveness. This thesis is the first study to apply discursive institutionalism specifically to a problem of policy implementation. It therefore represents a new extension of critical policy theory into implementation studies. As detailed above, it generates a number of new findings about how policy implementation happens in institutional voids, which may also be applicable to other policymaking contexts. This thesis has also generated insights about how policy implementation happens that can form the basis of future theory-building of policy implementation as a discursive process.
The Challenges to Reforming the Dublin System: A Critical Assessment of the Institutional Constraints on EU Asylum Policy-Making
The EU’s current system for distributing responsibility for asylum seekers, known as the Dublin Regulation, has failed to fulfil its core objectives of preventing secondary movement and ensuring swift and equal access to protection procedures for all asylum seekers. The system has had a harmful effect on refugee protection and human rights in EU member states. The system has also been widely denounced for unfairly disadvantaging frontline member states by concentrating the ‘burden of responsibility’ on countries that are geographically located as countries of first entry. Despite its problematic operation, relatively few studies have examined why the Dublin system has been maintained. This thesis seeks to explain why EU policy-makers continue to maintain the core responsibility principles of the Dublin system. Further it examines what have been the main impediments to pursuing policy change. The thesis investigates the factors contributing to policy continuity regarding the Dublin system by tracing the decision-making process across three negotiating periods (2001-2003; 2008-2012; 2016-). The thesis conceptualises the Dublin system’s history of policy failure as a case of institutional failure. It argues that the Commission, the Parliament and the Council failed to agree to durable solutions at key points of re-negotiation. This thesis argues that the institutional context within which decision-making takes place has shaped policy outcomes by constraining actor behaviour and strategies during the policy-making process. Institutionalist explanations of policy continuity regarding the Dublin system have been relatively under-explored in comparison with preference-based and rational choices approaches (Armstrong 2016; Thielemann and Armstrong 2013; Mouzourakis 2014; Bosso 2016). The thesis focuses on two features of the EU institutional context that acted as drivers and impediments to reform: the formal distribution of power and resources among the policy actors; and the inter-institutional norms, procedures and customary practices that structure the decision-making process. A major finding of this thesis is that decision-making regarding the Dublin system continues to be characterised by a culture of intergovernmentalism, which has privileged national governments and their interest in the policy process. This has prompted the Commission, Parliament and successive Council Presidencies to adopt pragmatic approaches to reform aimed primarily at accommodating the various national interests. As a result, the re-negotiations have been characterised by continuity regarding the responsibility principles of the Dublin system
Rethinking Women’s Agency and Empowerment: Insights from Agricultural Households in Northern Ghana
This thesis seeks to represent the voices of local women regarding the concept of ‘women’s empowerment’. Although it is a dominant concept in development discourse, and one that has been extensively researched, what constitutes empowerment from local women’s perspectives—and the implications for their agency and realisation of outcomes in their specific contexts—remains poorly understood. Through an exploratory case study of local women’s perspectives and experiences and non-governmental organisation (NGO) interventions in Northern Ghana, this thesis engages with the concept of ‘women’s empowerment’ and highlights important gaps in the ways this concept is deployed in the development sector. Specifically, this thesis draws from ten months of qualitative fieldwork in the Upper West Region of Ghana, using in-depth interviews, focus group discussions, participant observations and document reviews to contribute a contextual insight into local meanings and factors underpinning women’s notions and pathways to empowerment in Ghana’s agricultural sector. My findings show that both NGOs and local women conceptualise empowerment as a process of change and a progression from conditions of powerlessness to conditions of relative control in the socio-political, economic, nutritional and informational domains. However, while NGO interest in these domains is driven by neoliberal donor development goals and requirements, with a focus on evidence-based measurable change and visible agency outcomes, women’s understandings of empowerment as change in these domains are underpinned by their pursuit of ‘cultural projects’ linked to marriage, motherhood and building relations of solidarity motivated by spiritual and psychosocial gains. As such, rather than harnessing politico-economic attainments to transform the hierarchical (unequal) power relations in which they are embedded, women define their ability to choose agency pathways that enable them to realise such culturally meaningful goals as empowerment, even when this ostensibly re/produces their subordination. Juxtaposing women’s perspectives with those of the NGOs, I show that because women construct empowerment within pre-existing socio-religious and gendered discourses on power—as well as their historically communal patriarchal cultural context—their empowerment is closely associated with agency pathways that promote cohesive relationships and interdependent complementarities from which they derive meaning and purpose in their lives. Therefore, I argue that, despite convergence in perspectives and the infiltration of neoliberal ideals, local women’s notions and pathways to empowerment are complex and nuanced by the prioritisation of culturally constituted non-material wellbeing achievements, as opposed to the evidence-based politico-economic and gender equality agenda of NGOs empowerment projects. Further, I assert that, while the focus on macro-level indicators of change is important for policy action, for effective planning towards sustainable change, sensitivity to women’s local realities of power/lessness and recognising the value of cultural projects to their empowerment is crucial. This thesis foregrounds women’s voices and allows us to appreciate that women’s struggle for empowerment is one for a change that is socio-culturally defined and valued by women, no matter how insignificant, and irrespective of whether such change promotes gender equality or undoes gender power asymmetries, as advocated for in dominant empowerment frameworks. This thesis also enriches the literature on the significance of incorporating ‘cultural projects’ into empowerment conceptualisation and practice.