Rebecca Elliott (University of California, Berkeley)

Dissertation: Underwater: Floods and the Social Classification, Pricing, and Distribution of the Risks of Climate Change in the United States

My dissertation takes up a problem facing the American welfare state: how to bear the escalating costs of more frequent and severe natural disasters. I examine this problem in the context of recent transformations to the massively indebted federal National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP), the public insurance institution that allocates financial responsibilities for the particular natural hazard of flooding. Drawing on qualitative (interview, ethnographic, and archival) and quantitative data, Underwater is a multi-method analysis of how, and to what effects, the state establishes and “prices in” intensified conditions of flood hazard as distributable risk. I focus on the central processes of risk classification, calculation, and distribution in the NFIP. I find that these processes of insurance act as channels through which this particular climate change burden, of more frequent and severe flooding, is individualized. Specifically, updated official risk classifications, combined with changes to the calculation of insurance premiums, shifted more financial responsibility from the state to individual policyholders, who had to find ways to mitigate the risk and its cost. The dissertation analyzes how the state carries out this shift in practice, how people and communities experience it on the ground, and how struggles over these public insurance processes interact with more general questions of welfare state provision.

Bryce Hannibal (Texas A&M University, Postdoctoral Research Associate Institute for Science, Technology, and Public Policy)

In this project I explore, jazz collaboration networks at the height of small-group jazz popularity (1945- 1958) to determine if one’s structural location within the larger network influences career success and innovation. Using a network dataset collected from the Tom Lord Discography, I use social network analysis techniques and longitudinal logistic regression to examine a statistical relationship between network characteristics and success. I test several existing hypotheses in network literature, e.g., centrality, brokerage, and closure, as well as newer assertions that are gaining widespread use. Because jazz is based on improvisation there are incentives to creating a well-functioning closed group that remains cohesive so that musicians become familiar with and attuned to one another’s musical styles. However, while this logic is sound the results of this project do not follow the closure tradition and are instead consistent with the sparse networks or brokerage hypotheses. Individuals within jazz networks who form a closed group are less likely to have a successful career. More broadly, conclusions from this project suggest that individual innovators who work in a group setting should maintain open networks with connections to diverse areas of the global network.

Kim Pernell-Gallagher (Harvard University) Dissertation: The Causes of the Divergent Development of Banking Regulation in the U.S., Canada, and Spain

I ask why different countries created different systems of banking regulation in the years leading up to the recent global financial crisis, despite adhering to the terms of the same transnational regulatory agreement (the 1988 Basel Capital Accord). The conventional wisdom is that banking regulation either follows universal principles of efficiency, or reflects the power and interests of the regulated industry. I offer a very different explanation: regulators from different countries adopted different policies because they subscribed to fundamentally different conceptions of economic order, which can be traced back many decades. To support this argument, I draw from over 5000 pages of archival material and 24 in-depth interviews with regulators and industry participants, tracing the historical development of banking regulation (1780-2007) within each country.


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