Watson Institute at Brown University
International Relations

Honors Thesis Abstracts 2013

Explaining Social Inclusion Policies: Emergence Theory and the Case of Brazil (1988-2013)
Ana Carolina Barry Laso
What explains the global rise of social inclusion policies (SIPs)? Scholars and policymakers tend to focus on the effects of this new sociopolitical model in developed countries, while little attention is paid to its causes—particularly in the developing world. However, understanding causation is imperative to best direct our efforts to expand these inclusive development strategies. In contrast to reductionist approaches that explain policy through individual decisions, I argue that social inclusion policies “emerge” over time. I offer a multi-causal, historical framework within emergence theory that explains these policies as complex processes. Applying this model to the case of Brazil (1988-2013), I find that social mobilization and international pressures are triggering variables that determine the switch from social welfare policies to social inclusion policies. This study challenges realist, instrumentalist, and constructivist approaches for explaining SIPs and international development, and sheds new light on policy-making theories. Demonstrating the value of studying processes and interactions, my thesis suggests more effective ways of policy-making. SIPs emergence requires political actors to actively cooperate with society to find most fitting political solutions.
Bhrigupati Singh, Claudia Elliott
Social inclusion policies, emergence, Brazil, international pressure, mobilization.
View presentation

The Selectivity and Inconsistency of Security Council-Authorized Humanitarian Intervention: Explaining Syria in Light of Libya
Vanes Ibric
What factors or conditions influence the feasibility of Security Council-authorized humanitarian intervention? Why did the UN authorize intervention in Libya (2011), but failed to do the same in Syria? Traditional paradigms that focus on self-interest, humanitarian norms, or the Responsibility to Protect doctrine offer incomplete explanations because they neglect the critical importance of domestic, regional, and international actors that interact on various levels. A more comprehensive explanation to the humanitarian intervention conundrum must situate the permanent five (P5) as the central element, and must include the following variables: the economic, military, and political relationship between the P5 and the target country; the military strength and political cohesiveness of the incumbent regime; the official stance of regional organizations and individual regional actors; and the experience of previous interventions, in this case the intervention in Libya. Using textual analysis and process tracing, I find that these variables interacted to create a pro-interventionist (Libya) and anti-interventionist (Syria) climate, to which the P5 responded accordingly. My model builds a theoretical framework that elucidates humanitarian intervention as emerging from the interactions between different actors that create a particular interventionist climate, and provides a novel understanding of how the international community responds to humanitarian crises.
Nukhet Sandal, Peter Andreas
Libya, Syria, humanitarian intervention, Security Council, the Permanent Five
View presentation


A Crisis of Consensus: Legacies of the Spanish Transition, 1975-2013
Jorge Tamames
Since 2011, Spain has witnessed a surge in popular protests and civil disobedience, unprecedented in the history of its democracy. What explains this increase in socio-political conflict? Scholars, politicians, and the media blame the economy, citing the correlation between economic crises, like the one Spain is currently experiencing, and an increase in social discontent. This explanation, however, examines only short-term dynamics and overlooks deeper, long standing issues with potentially more challenging consequences. I argue that understanding the rise of socio-political conflict requires a historical approach and a systematic assessment of political as well as economic causes. Employing process tracing to examine the institutional and ideological legacies of the Franco dictatorship and the Spanish transition to democracy, I provide an alternative framework that conceives this phenomenon as a broader crisis of consensus. Spain faces not only an economic crisis but also an unraveling of the political pacts and arrangements that have bound its democratic regime together for more than three decades. Because Spain is considered a textbook pacted transition and a paradigmatic third-wave democracy, this thesis has wider implications for both the study of both socio-political conflict in democratic regimes and transitions to democracy.
Advisors: Claudia Elliott, Cornel Ban
Keywords: Spain, economic crisis, democratic transitions, pacted transitions, authoritarian legacies, third wave democracy
Viw presentation