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From health care to drug wars: grad students investigate

Here's what 5 Concordia political science researchers are working on
January 16, 2017
By J. Latimer

Researcher Rubens Lima Moraes analyses the influence of violence over clientelism in three neighbourhoods in Rio de Janeiro (pictured), Medellin and Mexico City. | Photo by EMBARQ Brasil (Flickr CC) Researcher Rubens Lima Moraes analyses the influence of violence over clientelism in three neighbourhoods in Rio de Janeiro (pictured), Medellin and Mexico City. | Photo by EMBARQ Brasil (Flickr CC)

Consider the political power wielded by drug gangs in Mexico City. Or how policies in Canada create barriers to social inclusion for disabled older adults.

These are just two of the many intriguing topics political science PhD candidates in Concordia’s Faculty of Arts and Science are investigating. Here, five Concordia graduate students provide abstracts of their research projects.

Özge Uluskaradag: ‘Politicization shapes our lives’

Visiting research fellow from l'École des hautes études en sciences sociales at the Centre national de la recherche scientifique, Paris

Özge Uluskaradag

My current research looks at the impact of politicization — political control by elected officials over bureaucracy — on policy formulation in health care. In a comparative case study of France and Turkey, I examine how different forms of political control affect the way in which health policies are formulated and health outcomes are shaped. 

My dissertation asks two main questions: What explains variation in public bureaucracies’ performance under similar institutional settings facing politicization? And how do different forms of politicization inform policy advisory roles of expert-bureaucrats and shape policy outcomes in health?

Drawing on policy documents and more than 60 in-depth semi-structured interviews with high-ranked bureaucrats in the ministries of health in France and Turkey, my dissertation hypothesizes that a politicized bureaucracy can take several forms and its effects can vary across institutional settings, policy stages and policy fields.

Therefore a general statement about their impact on the policy process would neglect the variation in policy outcomes, which is overlooked by the existing literature.

Özge Uluskaradag won the Stein Rokkan Prize at the 24th International Political Science Association World Congress held in July 2016. 

Kerry Tannahill: ‘What aspects of democracy are failing and potentially driving public discontent?’

Coordinator for the Workshops on Social Science Research (WSSR)

Kerry Tannahill

The objective of my work is to dig deep within Quebec to understand the complexities of public orientations toward different aspects of democracy. It does so by parcelling out variations in attitudes toward different parts of the political system (including political authorities and institutions, democratic regime principles and the political community as a whole) at the municipal, provincial and federal government levels.

To explain these variations, my work examines the influence of poor government performance, varying social contexts and the effects of diverse identity structures on Quebecers' perceptions of these different aspects of the political system.

It also explores the interconnectedness of orientations toward these different political objects, tracing support from the most specific objects (authorities and institutions) to the most diffuse (regime principles and political community).

Daniel Dickson: ‘The ongoing exclusion of people with developmental disabilities is an important political issue’ 

Team member on the Research Chair in Aging and Public Policy and researcher with the Centre for Research and Expertise in Social Gerontology (CREGÉS)

Daniel Dickson

My current research explores the politics of aging with intellectual and developmental disabilities. Specifically, I am investigating how barriers to social inclusion for this population are being addressed by existing policy structures in Canada. 

This involves moving beyond policy designs to analyze the precise outcomes that are produced when policies are implemented at the street level. By comparing these outcomes cross-provincially, my research contributes to a discussion of best practices for this historically marginalized group. 

In addition, by exploring the social barriers that reinforce this marginalization, my research aims to provide new insights into how these barriers are socially constructed.

While negative constructions of “aged” and “disabled” identities are well theorized in academic literature, less is known about how processes of discrimination and exclusion occur where these identity constructions intersect. I hope to help fill this gap.  

Rubens Lima Moraes: ‘I feel personally compelled to disentangle the dynamics of violence and clientelism’

Founding member of the Lab for Latin American and Caribbean Studies

Rubens Lima Moraes

My current work in Latin American metropolises examines the influence of armed actors like militia and drug gangs over “clientelism” — the exchange of goods and services for political support — through the politicization of urban services in poor communities. 

First, I argue that armed actors change clientelism by hijacking neighbourhood associations in slums, inserting themselves as mediators between the state and society. Furthermore, I argue that armed actors politicize the delivery of urban services by centralizing the decision-making of these neighbourhood associations and brokering deals with the state without consulting residents.

My study analyses the influence of violence over clientelism in three slum neighbourhoods in Rio de Janeiro (Brazil), Medellin (Colombia) and Mexico City (Mexico). The data gathering will consist of in-depth interviews and participant observation with slum households and individuals who are linked to armed actors.

Lindsay Larios: ‘It’s important to me to do research that has the potential to have a real positive impact on people’s lives’ 

Researcher affiliated with the Centre for Immigration Policy Evaluation

Lindsay Larios

My research has been focused on feminist and social justice perspectives related to migration and labour policy. In particular I use a lens of “care,” informed by care ethics, to uncover how “women’s work” has been devalued in society, and how this intersects with ethnicity and immigration status.  

What becomes apparent through this research and through a care perspective are the ways in which gender, race, sexuality, ability and socio-economic status do not appear as mere variables, but rather function as organizing principles within policy. In the area of migration, we can see the way that policy constructs how people are able to engage in caregiving, receive care and think about care responsibilities, and how different groups are presented with different barriers.

These questions challenge us to think about the way certain actions and the people who do them are valued, whether we see them as contributing to society or not and how public policy influences or generates these valuations. 

To learn more about the graduate work happening in Concordia's Department of Political Science, consult the complete list of PhD students and their research interests.


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