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Students on the Market

The following Ph.D. candidates are on the job market for the 2014-2015 year:

Matthew L. Layton

  • Curriculum Vitaematt
  • Major Fields of Study: Comparative Politics and American Politics
  • Dissertation Title: Conditional Social Assistance and Democratic Citizenship: Policy Feedback in Latin America
  • Dissertation Defense Date: Spring 2014
  • Dissertation Abstract: Do conditional social assistance policies foster or undermine democratic citizenship in Latin America? The rise of conditional cash transfer (CCT) programs in Latin America was intended to provide more progressive and effective welfare benefits, yet it is possible that these anti-poverty initiatives contain some of the same deficiencies as standard welfare programs, which have been tagged with stigma and faulted for failing to empower previously marginalized individuals. To address this issue in the contemporary context, my dissertation analyzes how Latin American political elites allocate conditional cash transfer benefits, how those benefits alter the civic and political engagement of recipients, and the extent to which recipients encounter stigmatization in society. Applying methods that range from statistical matching techniques and hierarchical modeling to content analysis, I assess public opinion survey data from Latin America, publicly available data on assistance allocation, and focus group interviews conducted during fieldwork in Brazil. In the course of the project I develop, test, and find evidence for the argument that current anti-poverty policies fall short of developing vibrant citizenship among recipients. Based on my findings regarding biases in the distribution, operation, and perception of conditional social assistance programs, I conclude by identifying several reforms that governments and funding agencies could pursue to allow these programs to better contribute to the consolidation of democracy in the region.
  • Advisors: Mitchell A. Seligson and Elizabeth J. Zechmeister

Mason Moseley

  • Curriculum Vitaemason
  • Major Fields of Study: Comparative Politics and American Politics
  • Dissertation Title: Ballots and Blockades: The Normalization of Protest in Latin American Democracies
  • Dissertation Defense Date: Spring 2014
  • Dissertation Abstract: Why does mass protest surface as a common component of the participatory "repertoire" in certain democratic systems, but not others? While countries like Argentina, Bolivia, and Peru, have experienced frequent episodes of contentious politics during recent years, such that protest has come to constitute a vital component of everyday political life, there are other Latin American regimes where contentious movements seldom emerge and citizen participation is primarily channeled through formal vehicles. I contend that this often-sharp cross-national variation is the result of differences in political institutions and trends in citizen engagement across nascent democracies. Specifically, institutional weakness in democratic regimes precipitates more radical modes of political participation, as governments' ability to deliver on citizens' expectations fails to match the capacity for mobilization of politically active democrats. Drawing on cross-national surveys and subnational data from Argentina, I test this explanation against other leading theories in the literature, offering one of the first comprehensive multilevel studies of the contextual determinants of protest participation across polities. This project received a dissertation grant from the National Science Foundation to conduct fieldwork in Argentina during the 2012-2013 academic year.
  • Advisors: Jonathan Hiskey and Mitchell A. Seligson

Stephen Utychutych

  • Curriculum Vitae
  • Major Fields of Study: American Politics and Political Methodology
  • Dissertation Title: A Matter of Life and Death: The Psychological Effects of Casualties of War
  • Dissertation Defense Date: Spring 2015
  • Dissertation Abstract: The decision to go to war is a political choice with clear and serious life and death consequences. I examine how casualties of war are discussed by political elites and influence the attitudes of American citizens. Research on foreign policy suggests that Americans are sensitive to hearing about American casualties in war, though they are not sensitive to deaths of citizens of other countries. In my dissertation, I argue that the rhetorical strategies of political elites are used to obscure the fact that individuals are dying in war. Language that sanitizes casualties of war, or dehumanizes the enemy, has serious consequences for how the average citizen views casualties of war. In this dissertation, I use data from Congressional speeches, existing surveys, and experimental data to examine how language is used to discuss casualties of war, which types of individuals are predisposed to respond to civilian casualties of war, and the consequences of sanitized and dehumanizing language about death for public support of foreign policy actions.
  • Advisor: Cindy Kam


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