Sociology Theses

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This collection is made up of doctoral and master theses by research, which have been received in accordance with university regulations.

For more information, please visit the UCD Library Theses Information guide.


Recent Submissions

Now showing 1 - 3 of 3
  • Publication
    General Purpose Technologies from a Knowledge Perspective – A Computational Social Science Approach to Innovation Networks in Nanotechnology
    (University College Dublin. School of Sociology, 2016) ;
    Nanotechnology is expected to have major economic impact over the next decades. Due to its importance, nanotechnology has drawn the attention of policy makers. The huge impact mainly relies on its properties as a general purpose technology (GPT). GPTs can be combined with other technologies, thereby bringing about new innovations and thus feedback effects. If nanotechnology in particular and GPTs in general are of such great importance, effective and efficient policy designs aiming at the fostering of nanotechnology research, development (R&D) and innovation are of vital importance. To design these policies, it is important to understand how GPTs are affecting different technological areas. An empirical study of the knowledge structure of Ireland using social network analysis shows how nanotechnology is connected to the overall knowledge available. We find that nanotechnology is still a rather weakly connected multidisciplinary field however, showing signs of increasingly connecting technology areas in which it is applied.Policy does, however, not exclusively focus on innovations and growth. A recent example is the normative concept of responsible research and innovation, aiming at designing policies, which solve a broader range of societal problems. It is demonstrated that the framework developed can also be used to design research and innovation policies not purely aimed at economic problems. In policy implications it is outlined that due to the great impacts of a GPT on innovation and thus on the economy, normative questions gain even more significance.If policy aims at fostering research and innovation (R&I), it needs to consider the complex nature of R&I, the collaborations in which R&I happens and the relations within such an innovation system. To design efficient policies, these policies can be evaluated before they are introduced by applying computer simulations. With agent-based modelling (ABM) a methodology is available for developing such simulations. At the same time, these computer simulations must can reproduce complex behaviour. An ABM is developed and it is shown that policy questions, here about the importance of heterogeneity can be tackled applying agent-based simulation.With the SKIN (Simulation Knowledge Dynamics in Innovation Networks) a promising tool for R&I policy modelling is identified. Applying a set of indicators, it is shown that the SKIN model in its current form does not capture the emergence and diffusion of GPTs. Subsequently, pathways for adaptations of the model are developed.The work concludes by outlining policy implications and the applicability of the Systems of Innovation approach in connection to the concept of GPTs.
  • Publication
    The usual suspects and usual spaces? People and place in complaints about Irish police
    (University College Dublin. School of Sociology, 2016) ;
    Research literature suggests that deviance is a feature of agencies and their agents, tends to be hidden, generally passes unpunished and consequently re-occurs. Taking the particular case of police deviance, this paper seeks to explain how police deviance is reported and treated in the Irish context. Noting the absence of a general theory of complaining in existing research studies, the paper also examines whether geographic area attributes can be isolated as a determining factor in complaint emergence and processing. The spur for this is the long-standing association between areas marked by deprivation and high crime and intensive policing practice. To that end, principal use is made of Shaw and McKay’s theory of social disorganisation. Drawing on survey, documentary analysis and GIS mapping techniques, it is found that among those grievances formalised as complaints, proven police deviance is a minor feature in Ireland, it is largely dealt with at the lowest level and is more likely to be confirmed by the police themselves than by the overseer. As to complainants, the Irish police complaint load is not dominated by the most resource deficient individuals but their presence is higher than expected. The most resource deficient complainants also tend not to fare any worse than others in the complaint process. Finally, while perpetrator and place have been well documented in research to date about crime, they have been overlooked in examination of police complaints. Addressing this it is found that while largely about policing within complainants’ local station areas, complaints do not emerge mostly from nor do they occur mostly in complainants’ immediate environs or in areas of greatest resource deficiency.
  • Publication
    Communication practices and citizens' participation in the Colombian water movement
    (University College Dublin. School of Sociology, 2014) ;
    In the last decade, social movements' struggles for water and environmental justice have noticeably increased in Colombia and Latin America. These struggles have largely been a consequence of the implementation of neoliberal policies of water privatisation and the rise of large-scale projects such as mining and dams. These emerging social movements have produced new expressions of collective democratic participation. This thesis analyses communication practices in the Colombian water movement. It argues that these practices have created new forms of participation and citizenship which have deepened democracy. Furthermore, they have contributed to increasing the socio-political visibility and relevance of the water conflicts in Colombia. The communication practices used by the Colombian water movement have permitted the re-opening and appropriation of spaces for participation and have contributed to promoting more inclusive and democratic practices and policies on governance and protection of natural common goods. Spaces for dialogue, meeting, diffusion of information, lobbying and protesting represent an exercise of active citizenship which has deepened Colombian democracy. This is particularly important in Colombia, a country with more than 50 years of internal violent conflict that has inhibited social movements and citizen engagement with issues of public concern. The thesis uses literature on new social movements (NSM), communication approaches (participatory, public, and communication for social change) and citizenship. The major theoretical contribution of this thesis lies in complementing NSM theories with communication approaches drawn from development studies. Combining these bodies of work furthers our understanding of the complex interactions of communities mobilising towards achieving social and environmental justice.