The University of Massachusetts Amherst
University of Massachusetts Amherst

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Kira Tait

Professional Title: 

PhD Candidate


Thompson 612



My interests are socioeconomic development, comparative courts and constitutionalism.  I am particularly interested in socioeconomic rights litigation and how ordinary people view the act of going to court to protect their socioeconomic rights.  I also have a broader interest in the politics of developing countries.

In my dissertation, I explore ordinary Black South Africans' perceptions of the law and how these perceptions impact their views of the desirability and appropriateness of appealing to courts when they have problems accessing constitutionally guaranteed services. Specifically, I study why people choose not to use courts to secure access to water, healthcare, education, and housing when it is both legal and possible to do so. My research relies on 12-months of fieldwork, completed in three separate trips, funded by Fulbright, the National Science Foundation, and the UMass Graduate School.