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Open Access Publications from the University of California


Welcome to the Berkeley Undergraduate Journal, a biannual publication dedicated to publishing exemplary undergraduate research in the humanities and social sciences.


Reconsidering Sustainable Development: Urbanization, Political-Economy, and Deliberative Democracy

Twenty-five years after it entered the mainstream of global development discourse, “sustainable” remains a vague concept. Adopted by the powerful and the powerless, the term has been used to describe everything from consumer products to entire economic systems. Meanwhile, conciliatory democratic politics have suffered under a heavily money-influenced political process. This paper critiques conventional views on the definition of sustainability, and the proposed solutions that emerge therefrom. Ultimately, even the most useful concept in sustainable development discourse—the “three-legged stool” of social, ecological, and economic concerns—remains inadequate. The failure to implement the three-legged stool in practice indicates that contradictions between desired outcomes in each leg are an inherent and perpetual problem for society. Modern sustainability discourse, in its focus on ideal outcomes, fails to provide guidance for what to do when these contradictions occur. In promoting deliberative democratic decision-making for government, business, and civil society as a means towards sustainability, the author emphasizes sustainability as a process, not an achievement, even if that process relies on some widely accepted sustainability indicators to gauge its direction. By paying attention to the limits and failures of current models of societal decision-making (including the ways economic structures delimit behavioral options), sustainability discourse can elaborate a successful alternative: widespread, multi-level, nested, and interacting deliberative democratic processes that address the usage and pollution of natural resources. This paper also analyzes urbanization as a contentious subject within sustainability discourse, and as a key element in deliberative democratic development and the iterative mitigation of environmental problems.

Melodic Fission in Trance Music: The Perception of Interleaved Vocal and Non-Vocal Melodies

While many studies have examined melodic fission of familiar and unfamiliar interleaved Western melodies, melodic fission in trance music, an electronic dance music genre, has not yet been studied.  Melodic material is relatively constant throughout a trance song, while timbre, texture, and dynamics vary over time.  In this study, participants listened to several clips of trance music with two or more competing melodic lines and evaluated which were melodic and harmonic.  Answers were based primarily on how conjunct each line was, although some disjunct lines were segregated into two streams.  Lyrical content, rhythmic simplicity, past musical training, familiarity with the genre, and connections drawn to other genres further affected the perception of melody in trance music.

The Dayton Accords and the Escalating Tensions in Kosovo

This paper argues that the Dayton Accords, which effectively ended the war in Bosnia and Herzegovina, were the primary cause of the outbreak of violence in Kosovo in 1998. While the Accords were regarded as successful in neighboring Bosnia, the agreement failed to mention the existing situation in Kosovo, thus perpetuating the ethnic tensions within the region. Following the Dayton Accords, the response by the international community failed to address many concerns of Albanian Kosovars, creating a feeling of alienation from the international political scene. Finally, the Dayton Accords indirectly contributed to the collapse of the Albanian government in 1997, creating a shift in the structure of power in the region. This destabilization effectively triggered the outbreak of war between Serbs and Albanians in Kosovo the following year.

A Political Ecology of the Citarum River Basin: Exploring "Integrated Water Resources Management" in West Java, Indonesia

Over the past twenty years, the Indonesian government and international development agencies have ranked the Citarum River among the most polluted rivers in the world. Pollution, flooding, sedimentation, deforestation and over-pumping of ground water, combined with inadequate policy enforcement and poor coordination between government agencies are compromising Indonesian livelihoods.  In 2007, the Asian Development Bank (ADB) loaned Indonesia $500 million to implement “Integrated Water Resources Management” (IWRM) as a “best practices” management intervention to solve the “crisis” by “making decisions at the lowest appropriate level.”

To appraise IWRM success, this paper explores, (1) historical trajectories leading to water privatization measures and IWRM; (2) integration of “local ground realities” during West Tarum Canal (WTC) project implementation by IWRM managers; (3) which “local ground realities” implementers must consider as IWRM enters the peri-urban village of Sukamaju.

Methodologically, I draw upon IWRM literature, Global Water Partnership’s (GWP) IWRM-ToolBox, Dublin Principle II, ADB planning documents, a two-month water pollution field investigation in Sukamaju, and personal interviews of residents, management officials, and government leaders. Lower basin findings show failures to effectively resettle and compensate residents.  Upper basin findings reveal a complex water pollution problem entangled in livelihood and policy contradictions, leading to persistent pollution.

My findings demonstrate that IWRM rhetoric borrows heavily from Dublin Principle II and GWP, and that IWRM management practices are inadequately informed by local realities.  This investigation aims to aid implementers by critiquing past failures so that project officials can address future challenges as IWRM makes its way throughout Indonesia.

Indirect Communication - The Shadow in Paradise Lost

In John Milton’s Paradise Lost, the shadow symbol shows how the idea of God functions in a secular context. This symbol creates a parallel between worship and the creative act; both actions constitute efforts toward union through indirect communication. The persistence of this symbol--from works as old as Dante’s Divine Comedy to David Foster Wallace’s Infinite Jest of 1996--inspires further examination of how this parallel affects the way we view art.

Measuring the Non-Observed Economy: A Survey-Based Study of Demand in the Korean Prostitution Market

Illegal activities are by their nature difficult to measure, despite the potentially important role they play in the economy. Their inclusion in Korea’s GDP is necessary to reflect Korea’s national economy more precisely. In this paper, I use a variety of survey methods to provide an estimate of the incidence of prostitution. I estimate the demand for prostitution services in Korea by conducting stratified random sampling surveys of 671 Korean adult males. Because the survey topic was sensitive, I conducted both randomized response (RR) and direct response surveys and compared the results. The RR survey interview method allows respondents to respond to sensitive issues while maintaining confidentiality. According to the survey results, participants felt protected by the RR questionnaire design and provided more accurate answers. I estimate that about 60 percent of Korean adult males seek the services of prostitutes at least once in their lifetimes and about 40 percent of Korean adult males seek the services of prostitutes at least three times annually. I also found that demographic variables such as education and income levels, the number of sex partners, and marriage status determined the probability that a male would seek the services of a prostitute. The estimated total revenue of prostitution services in Korea is approximately $18 billion, which equals about 1.66% of Korea’s GDP.

Microcredit and the Discourse of Empowerment: A Case Study in Jinotega, Nicaragua

Microcredit has become an increasingly popular strategy for improving the social, economic, and health status of women in the developing world. NGOs, government agencies and private enterprise have all put forth credit initiatives geared toward “women’s empowerment.” Despite the ubiquity of such programs, there is very little consensus about what it actually means to “empower” women. Using abstract terms is problematic as it undermines the ability to establish specific targets and goals for gender equity programs. Moreover, when interventions are aimed at such broadly defined goals, it becomes near impossible to measure and evaluate the effectiveness of these programs.

Despite the wide variety of microcredit program design and client demographics, they are spoken of as uniform categories in the literature. Little to no attention has been given to how varying program design leads to different benefits. For example, individual loans lead to a greater amount of financial autonomy and decision-making power, whereas solidarity loans excel at building social connections and community affiliation. Such nuances should be considered when designing economic and gender equity interventions in order to ensure that needs are properly met, and benefits maximized to their fullest potential.

This paper takes into consideration what it means to be “empowered,” and whether or not empowerment is the correct form of discourse for discussing gender equality. It also compares three different microcredit program designs in order to understand how program design and demographics affect outcomes.