On Politics: Ph.D student’s dissertation topic? Luzerne County voters

John Villecco talks about his thesis project, for which he is looking to interview Luzerne County residents about the 2016 election and their voting histories. –

Roger DuPuis | Times Leader

Journalists get there first, anthropologists get there second, historians get there third.

It’s a maxim John Villecco learned from a professor years ago, and now he’s learning the lessons first-hand. He is an anthropology Ph.D student at American University in Washington, D.C.

His dissertation topic? Us.

Villecco, 29, wants to interview Luzerne County residents about politics and voting for an ethnographic study.

Perhaps not surprisingly, his work will be carried out in the context of the 2016 presidential election — but not only that election.

“Essentially I want to ask people why they vote the way they do, what informs about how they think about politics generally,” Villecco said during a visit to the Times Leader last week.

“I am interested in the deeper cultural, historical, philosophical reasons” why and how people participate in the political process, he added. I want to understand people’s histories, and relay their stories as honestly as I possibly can.”

“Depth is what I am going for — depth beyond what most journalism can get at,” he added.

One of his frustrations with coverage before and after the election was the superficial, patronizing way in which some observers characterized voters.

“I got a little bit disillusioned,” Villecco said. “I really do approach everyone I speak with as someone who can teach me something.”

Why come here looking for those subjects, though?

“Following the election I was reading almost daily, and Luzerne County started…

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.