London School of Economics and Political Science

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    The weight of tradition: investigating the persistence and performance of caste and gender hierarchies in Indian society

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    This thesis examines how young Indians navigate and reproduce social hierarchies in their daily lives, with an emphasis on caste and gender. Grounded in the Social Identity Approach, I employ a mixed-methods framework across three empirical studies. In the first empirical study, I analyse secondary survey (with 6122 Indians) data to uncover the contextual factors shaping the endorsement of traditional caste and gender attitudes. Here, I particularly highlight the influence of a concern for familial obligation. In the second empirical study, I conduct 34 in-depth interviews to understand why social hierarchies are performed through maryada (subtle acts of deference along intersecting lines of caste and gender), even when hierarchy-relevant norms are not endorsed. I find that it is the type of social scrutiny within a setting, coupled with the prospect of sanctions and reputational harm that compels the performance of maryada. Building on this, I conduct an online survey experiment with 612 Indians to examine the mechanisms through which the self-reported performance of maryada varies according to social scrutiny, expectations regarding sanctions and a concern for familial obligation. Here, findings indicate that a concern for family obligation and the expectation of sanctions directed at the family, not just the individual, are essential components in understanding the performance of maryada. This thesis makes three theoretical contributions. Firstly, I emphasise that real-world hierarchies are constantly shaped and reshaped by contextual processes. Secondly, I posit that a study of the performance of hierarchies is crucial to an understanding of how it is perpetuated in everyday life. Thirdly, by highlighting the prospect of sanctions and reputational fallout, I question existing assumptions of agency. Through this thesis, I underscore the pivotal role of the inclusion of relevant contextual processes in social psychology research, highlighting its dynamic influence on the creation and perpetuation of real-world hierarchies

    The political economy of intervention: power, insecurity and networks in Afghanistan, 2001–2021

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    This thesis explores the puzzle of persistent insecurity despite international peace-and-security interventions aimed at building states, market economies and civil society. It studies some of the ways in which local and global dynamics interact to reconstruct power, authority and (in)security in conflict-affected contexts. The focus is on Afghanistan (2001–2021), which provides a fertile setting for the study of the political economy of intervention and statebuilding given its long-standing conflict and the most extensive, well-resourced international peacebuilding intervention in recent times. An introduction and a methodology chapter bring together the overall framework and methodology, while highlighting the ethical and other challenges in conducting research in conflict zones. An initial paper, published in Stability: International Journal for Security and Development (, provides a detailed overview of the changing nature of conflict and statehood in Afghanistan pre- and post-2001 under President Karzai’s regime. It draws on different concepts of public authority to explain rising insecurity in the country and set the context for three empirical papers examining different aspects of the international intervention. The first empirical paper, published in the Journal of Civil Society (, takes a bottom-up perspective to understand how people experienced and navigated insecurity and the meanings they attached to their lived experiences of authority and change. The second paper provides a detailed analysis of the transnational politically-connected business networks that emerged around the Kabul Bank to show how economic reconstruction and neoliberal policies facilitated the emergence of a criminalised political economy that captured the state and fuelled the insurgency. The third empirical paper, published in International Affairs (, applies constructivist analyses to the US peacemaking effort (2018-2021) and argues that emergent Western narratives, knowledge producers, and mediator practices interacted in a changing context to induce a significant policy shift in the US, legitimatising a coercive US approach that reshaped the interests and behaviours of Afghan stakeholders, with violent material consequences. The final chapter integrates the findings of the papers to draw conclusions and implications for policy and future research

    The quiet diplomats: American diplomatic wives and public diplomacy in the Cold War, 1945-1972

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    The Quiet Diplomats: American Diplomatic Wives and Public Diplomacy in the Cold War, 1945-1972, illustrates how much of the unpaid work diplomatic wives did between 1945- 1972 can be re-categorised as instruments of public diplomacy – a growing field today. Drawing on archival research and oral histories, this thesis reveals how American diplomatic wives were able to actively participate in public diplomacy during the Cold War because of the soft power nature of the Cold War and changing gender roles in the post-war period which gave women and everyday citizens opportunities to engage in diplomacy. It reveals the ways in which the State Department encouraged this work for decades through informal policies and techniques such as training courses. The State Department relied on the unpaid labour of diplomatic wives, while a common joke on Capitol Hill and in the Department regarding the overseas posting of married male diplomats was “two for the price of one,” a tag which many wives either embraced or resented. Diplomatic wives engaged in public diplomacy through activities which included representational entertaining and advocacy; listening and information gathering; cultural diplomacy; educational exchange; and health diplomacy and humanitarian aid. They became conduits of soft power while representing the US in foreign postings. Through the era reviewed, the wives’ roles changed as society became more accepting of working women including wives and mothers. Until 1971, diplomatic wives were assessed by the State Department as part of their husband’s performance evaluations, and it was not until 1972 that diplomatic wives were considered private citizens. While their function was debated through the rest of the 1970s and the 1980s, this PhD thesis will show that diplomatic wives played a vital but unacknowledged role in American foreign relations during the Cold War

    Datafication of government: mapping data-driven practices in social service delivery

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    The introduction of processes of datafication is profoundly changing the logic of care and welfare provision within the social services sector in the UK. This thesis presents findings from one of the first detailed empirical studies of the incursion of dataism (Van Dijck 2014) into sensitive policy fields like child protection, welfare and social care administration. I discuss the consequences of using measurable types (Cheney-Lippold 2017) to pinpoint problematic behavioural characteristics that might need interventions in the future. In doing so I contribute to discussions about how the digitalisation of government (Dunleavy and Margetts 2015), as a long term structural macro process, has produced changes in the underlying rationalities of government. This is accomplished by locating datafication as a historical process that follows digitalisation (Mayer-Schönberger and Cukier 2013, Couldry and Hepp 2016) and mapping the discourses and practices of data driven technology in government. Drawing on in-depth case studies developed through fieldwork (conducted between 2020 to 2021) and engagement with key public sector departments, I demonstrate how welfare provision is being reconstituted through data. Risk based prioritisation (Yeung 2018, Yeung and Lodge 2019) of casework through data signatures represents a significant departure from earlier modes of working with vulnerable benefit claimants and defining what ‘high risk’ looks like. The majority of the published investigations of algorithmic processes in statutory safeguarding tends to focus on predictive risk assessment in the US context or on routine Child Protection and Child in Need functions of local government. This thesis offers a new empirical site and a few distinctively under-researched modelling processes to explore how the imperatives of datafication interact with existing organisational cultures and the mundane administrative interests of those who seek to optimise bureaucratic workflows. I also document the justificatory discourses that accompany the introduction of data driven pilots and elicit the views and reflections of the human frontline worker on whether their role has subsequently shrunk. The main contribution of this thesis lies in the conceptually innovative manner in which it brings together the problematisation of ‘data’ from Critical Data Studies, classification theory and research from Social Policy

    Towards a mature science of other minds

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    From humble beginnings, minds in the natural world have come to take on endless forms. Yet, our best way of studying these minds has come up short. By its own lights, comparative cognitive science has repeatedly struggled to achieve the goals that it has set out for itself. Why is this, and what can be done about it? This dissertation is directed at answering these questions. It does so in two parts. The first addresses the issue of replication; both the looming threat that a replication crisis holds for comparative cognitive science as well as the broader issue of what a replication is. Here, a deflationary account of replication is defended. This view is argued to hold implications for the practice of replication, interpreting replicability as a demarcation criterion, evaluating the replication crisis across the sciences, and evaluating results of replication experiments. Moreover, this analysis holds direct consequences for the evaluation of evidence in comparative cognitive science. Most pointedly, it is not ‘mature’ enough to experience a genuine replication crisis. Nevertheless, replication experiments, when properly framed, can still make valuable contributions to the discipline. The second part builds on the analysis in the first and shows how comparative cognitive science is inhibited by what is termed the ‘validity cycle’. Here, the causes of the validity cycle are initially identified (weak theory, underspecified hypotheses, and underdetermined experiments). Then, four ameliorative proposals that have been made are introduced and their shortcomings are analyzed. These are (1) adopting a bottom-up approach, (2) breaking cognitive capacities into dimensions, (3) formalizing the theories, and (4) identifying signatures of cognitive capacities. Modified versions of each are introduced. Taken together, it is argued that these modified proposals represent the most promising way forward for the science particularly when run simultaneously in a complementary manner

    'Loyalty more personal and fervent': Australasian imperial identities, 1892-1902

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    Britain’s Australasian colonies entered the 1890s a disparate group; by 1902 six of them had federated and the last was embarking on apparently quixotic schemes to expand the British empire in the Pacific. In popular history this is a story of emerging national identities; much of the academic scholarship disputes this and can accept that these societies were neither wholly nationalistic yet nor simply British. Both assume that the British Empire was centred upon London, and that therefore any political, cultural or economic move away from that government’s orthodoxy was if not opposition at least a divergence from the Empire itself. The thesis investigates how Victorians, New Zealanders, Queenslanders and the rest saw themselves within the Empire, but also how they defined that Empire. They were not subjects; nor was theirs’ simply a ‘Britannic’ nationalism shared by elites across the self-governing colonies. Rather these were self-confident societies that saw themselves not as the furthest reaches of an Empire, but as the truest defenders of British values. This thesis fuses cultural and political history to show that by 1902 and the formation of the Anglo-Japanese Alliance, Australasia had developed not just a distinct set of imperial identities, but an imperial ethos. This is shown through close study of several major Imperial engagements with the wider world in this period: the rise of Japan, the geopolitics of Empire in the south-west Pacific, the South African War, and finally the formalisation of the White Australia policy. By setting colonial responses next to the writings of the leaders of the British government, it becomes apparent that the common language of Empire conceals very different ideas about that empire’s strategic interests and civilisational values

    Assessing the implementation progress of adaptation to climate change

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    2023 is set to be the warmest year on record. Extreme weather events are getting more severe and more frequent, making adaptation to climate change ever more important. Literature on climate adaptation has strongly increased in quantitative output, but only a fraction of it focuses on actual implementation and its effects. Little empirical evidence is available on whether we are adapting. This knowledge gap has been referred to as a ‘grand challenge’ of adaptation research (Berrang-Ford et al., 2019). To improve our understanding of global progress on adaptation, this thesis includes novel empirical accounts of the United Nations (UN) climate change negotiations through multi-year participant observation, examining the rule-setting process for disclosure of adaptation information and the decisions taken on climate adaptation since the adoption of the Paris Agreement in 2015. This thesis also examines whether countries are tracking the implementation of their National Adaptation Plans (NAPs) and to what extent adaptation projects are implemented by the multilateral funds under the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), namely the Adaptation Fund, the Global Environment Facility, and the Green Climate Fund. These evidence-based accounts are contrasted to assessments based on countries’ stated intentions which are shown to overestimate progress by up to a factor of four. This thesis also includes contributions to two global environmental assessments, the Sixth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and the Adaptation Gap Report of the UN Environment Programme (UNEP). Its findings are highly policy relevant including in the context of the Global Goal on Adaptation and its framework. This thesis produced novel findings and generated two new datasets including an inventory of over 100 policy documents in more than ten languages. It makes significant contributions to the ’grand challenge' of better understanding global progress on adaptation

    Greek and Cypriot foreign policy in the Middle East: small states and the limits of neoclassical realism

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    The thesis seeks to answer the question, “What are the explanatory limits of Neoclassical Realism (NcR) when applied to small states?.” The aim is to test NcR's top-down methodology on small states, an important universe of cases, and to account for the relationship between international and domestic politics in the foreign policies of small states. An NcR-inspired theoretical framework fit for explaining small-state foreign policy is developed. The framework is built by interrogating the interconnection between NcR and the literature on small states' foreign policies and political economies. The main argument is that small states prioritise security threats in their immediate geographic environment. Domestic variables – the perception of the leadership and the state's political economy – act as complementary or moderating factors but are not drivers of foreign policy in this immediate geographic space. However, when a small state's foreign policy targets areas outside its near geographic environment, the domestic level variables become the main drivers of foreign policy, transforming into independent variables, given the lack of threats from the international system. The testing ground of the theoretical framework is the foreign policies of Cyprus and Greece in the Middle East in the period 2004-2022. The case studies focus on two sub-regions of the Middle East: The Eastern Mediterranean and the Gulf. In the Eastern Mediterranean, the security threat of Türkiye becomes the key driver of the foreign policy of both states, influenced, nonetheless, by the perception of the executive and economic and political considerations at the domestic level. In this case, NcR's top-down methodology works. In the Gulf, however, NcR's top-down methodology is not useful because no regional state fulfils the threat threshold. Here the intervening variables become the main foreign policy drivers

    Essays on trade and industrial policy

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    Deindustrialisation has been considered as one of the main causes of persistent regional inequalities and political polarisation across the developed world. This thesis compiles a theoretical introduction and three empirical essays on its causes, and the policies that can be employed to mitigate its adverse effects. The first chapter reviews the literature highlighting the unique contributions of this thesis to the fields of economic geography, public policy, and innovation studies. The second examines the industry and regional-level effects of increased import competition from China on manufacturing employment across 20 European countries. It finds a large negative effect that has persisted even after many years since trade with China stabilised. The third chapter deals with the effect of the Fraunhofer Society, Europe’s largest network of applied research institutes, on the productivity of firms and individual inventors. Its results show that applied research centres can increase the patent output of firms, especially in places that provide complementary support to R&D activities. Finally, the fourth chapter explores the mechanisms through which the GRW, a major investment subsidy scheme in Germany, can impact firm growth and employment. The results show that cost-shared investment aid can incentivise further investment in physical capital, allowing for a rise sales and substantial employment gains

    From Bretton Woods to the Great Moderation: essays in British post-war macroeconomic history

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    This thesis contributes to our understanding of British macroeconomic history in the decades following World War II until the eve of the Global Financial Crisis. It visits pivotal historical episodes, analyses pre-eminent policy issues, and examines some of the most contentious academic debates of the day. Particular focus is given to macroeconomic fluctuations in the short and medium-run, in contrast to the extant economic history literature centred largely on economic growth and comparative performance at the long-run horizon. The first chapter investigates the impact of fiscal policy on the current account balance under the Bretton Woods system of fixed exchange rates. Contrary to established opinion, econometric modelling reveals that fiscal laxity was not responsible for driving the UK’s chronic imbalances and rather said imbalances must be understood with reference to a broader menu of economic shocks. The second chapter analyses the controversial issue of North Sea oil’s impact on the exchange rate, terms of trade, and performance of the traded manufactures sector. Results from vector autoregressive models indicate that oil did exert a considerable impact, although it was not uniquely responsible for the difficulties bedevilling the manufacturing sector. Furthermore, it is argued that government policy towards management of the windfall revenues missed key opportunities therein. Finally, the third chapter takes up the question of aggregate cyclical dynamics, with specific reference to a debate between leading Keynesian economists regarding the true autonomous source of demand in an open-economy. Evidence from frequency domain analysis suggests that both sides of the debate overstated their positions and that a synthesis view appears perfectly reasonable in light of evidence obtained across varying frequency scales. Taken as a whole, the thesis reveals substantive differences between how contemporaneous actors and policy makers understood open-economy macroeconomic policy, versus the insights revealed by more recent econometric techniques and theoretical developments. The potential policy failures resulting from this disparity are considerable


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