Doctor of Philosophy in Sociology (PhD)
Cities, Sustainability and Inequality
This dissertation investigates how Chinese immigrants perceive and practice having children inthe course of immigration from China to Canada. While previous studies focus solely on post-immigrationfertility outcomes, my research includes prior-to-immigration childbearingperceptions and experiences to provide a holistic framework of fertility processes. Using 42 in-depthinterviews, I collect qualitative data on participants’ immigration journey and childbirthhistory as well as their own accounts of understanding, reasoning about, and reflecting on theirlived experiences. Through comparing across-group differences between immigrants who hadchildren in China and those who had children in Canada, as well as within-group differencesbetween people who had more children and those who had fewer, I find that moving acrossborders at different stages of the reproductive process shapes the ways people perceiveimmigration to Canada as a temporary stay, permanent settlement, periodic circulation, orspringboard to other places. At the same time, variations in navigating immigration systems andreception institutions account for divergences in the timing, spacing, number of childbirths, andcitizenship of children. I argue that immigration screening in the first place and receptioncontexts in turn channel immigrants into different reproduction trajectories. I develop anEmbodied Dynamics Model to elucidate the constellation of institutional, relational, andsituational dynamics that shape the ways individuals cope with moving across borders andhaving children simultaneously as the individual life course unfolds over time and across space. Iargue that immigrant fertility is best understood as a social reproduction process across borders,which involves ongoing triadic interplays of making sense of biographic situations, cooperatingwith relational circumstances, and navigating institutional contexts.
This thesis explores the theoretical and empirical connection between the welfare state and national-level climate governance, drawing together the concepts of the ecological state, ecological modernization, and varieties of capitalism. It is argued that the eco-state represents the latest evolutionary phase of the modern state, though no state has achieved full eco-state status. In its nascence it has thus been layered on top of institutional structures that characterize earlier phases, namely welfare and production regimes. As a result, 'eco-state regimes' – differential degrees of eco-state development – have begun to take shape, mapping onto these two foundational regimes such that coordinated market economies with social democratic welfare states are the vanguards of ecological modernization, a discourse that dominates environmental policy arenas across the advanced capitalist world but that these particular countries have embraced with especial gusto and have the institutional and governance capacities to make a reality. It is proposed, then, that this ‘family of nations’ would exhibit comparatively strong climate governance from an ecological modernization perspective. Using available data, I assess the empirical relevance of this theoretical framework and suggest how it might be strengthened. A basic quantitative analysis of scores on the Climate Change Performance Index provides some support for the theory but the existence of two substantially discrepant cases – the United Kingdom and Finland – indicates that it is overly simplistic. I explore these two cases further in considerable depth using an interdisciplinary, comparative case study approach, which brings to light a range of influential extra-theoretical factors, including climatic, geographic, demographic, economic, political, historical, and geopolitical factors. My findings therefore highlight the importance of a broader conception of national context to a fuller understanding of variation in national-level climate governance and suggest an additional, alternative evolutionary path for countries with liberal market economies and liberal welfare states. However, the findings also call into question the possibility of a fully developed eco-state, and the likelihood of ecological modernization as a definitive solution to global climate change, in the context of globalized capitalism.