Communication - Theses, Dissertations, and other Required Graduate Degree Essays

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Uncovering Conceptions of “Journalism Crisis” in Singapore and Hong Kong: When State Influences Interact with Western Liberal Ideals in a Globalizing Media Landscape

Author: 
Date created: 
2016-09-08
Abstract: 

The topic of journalism crisis has become increasingly pertinent as criticisms mount against news media systems that have prioritized private over public interests and/or failed to meet the challenges brought on by the Internet. Much research on journalism crisis, however, is set in the US and couched within a liberal-democratic ideological framework; little is known about how journalism crisis is articulated and experienced in other parts of the world. This thesis, therefore, aims to expand the literature on “journalism crisis” by considering how it is conceived by journalists in societies that may be heavily influenced by Western liberal ideals but whose media systems continue to be subjected to some form of authoritarian control or influence. Establishing first that a journalism crisis must be studied at the ideological, material, and discursive levels, this study develops a journalism crisis framework that features as its dimensions the crisis narratives most commonly discussed in Western-centric literature. While noting the global nature of processes that stem from the West, like neoliberal capitalist expansion and cultural imperialism, this study highlights the selective adoption of liberal ideologies by countries outside the Western world, as imperial influences interact with local histories and cultures. Of specific interest are two cities in Asia – Singapore, a city-state, and Hong Kong, a Special Administration Region of the People’s Republic of China. Standing at important historical junctures – with the passing away of prominent statesman Lee Kuan Yew and the rise of the “Umbrella Revolution” – these two places offer interesting points of comparison as “global cities” and former British colonies that are both subjected to some form of authoritarian control. Through a comprehensive survey with 160 journalists and in-depth interviews, this study uncovers stark differences in the journalism crisis perceptions of news-workers in Singapore and Hong Kong, and argues the existence of a “crisis of legitimacy” narrative, pertaining to the system of governance, that must be accounted for when studying journalism’s decline outside of the Western context.

Document type: 
Thesis
File(s): 
Senior supervisor: 
Yuezhi Zhao
Department: 
Communication, Art & Technology: School of Communication
Thesis type: 
(Dissertation) Ph.D.

As Seen on Screen: A Virtual Ethnographic Study of Children’s Screen Time

Date created: 
2016-10-26
Abstract: 

Children’s screen time is a cultural construct, a worldwide issue, and a highly controversial subject that separates people in ideological groups over the perceived impact that media and technology have on children. Screen time is a phenomenon, a discourse, an object, and a thing. It is a slippery, flexible, and complex issue that is constantly evolving, which only intensifies the debate over whether children’s screen time is positive or negative. Using virtual ethnography, I examined a number of field sites including academic journals, Twitter, LexisNexis, Reddit and The Bump to uncover the sentiments that scholars, media and parents form about children’s screen time. These sentiments often mirror the media harm debate, which positions children as vulnerable or competent. The media report on academic research, which is then discussed by parents. Groups form around the affective dimension of the debate (emotional ideologies), which only perpetuates the idea that children’s screen time is positive or negative (rather than both). This either-or proposition is unhelpful for the creation of management strategies that assist children in using screen-based devices in a healthy, balanced and productive way that doesn’t create a division in class structures.

Document type: 
Thesis
File(s): 
Senior supervisor: 
Frederik Lesage
Department: 
Communication, Art & Technology: School of Communication
Thesis type: 
(Thesis) M.A.

Federal Arts Policy 1957-2014. The Rhetoric & The Reality

Author: 
Date created: 
2016-09-23
Abstract: 

This dissertation is concerned with the question: what evidence exists to underpin the claim that 21st century Canadian arts policy is delivering the support necessary to maintain and build a vigorous and sustainable professional arts sector? To answer this question, this study begins with a retrospective examination of the Canada Council of the Arts, the principal instrument of federal policy for the professional arts celebrating its 60th anniversary in 2017. It also offers an intensive review of a recent program, the Marquee Tourism Events Program (MTEP), a multi-million-dollar federal program that ran from 2009 to 2010 and funded arts festivals on the basis of their tourism potential. Close analysis of both the Canada Council’s history, and of a recent short-term policy initiative, the MTEP, reveals the major characteristics of the federal government’s shifting approach to the professional arts sector. The dissertation shows how the formation and management of arts policy moved away from an emphasis on an arms-length approach to the professional arts and turned to programs like the MTEP for which economic rationales were paramount- although their economic impacts were poorly documented. To reach these conclusions, I conducted a content and document analysis of the federal major policy documents 1957-2014. I then compared these arts policy documents against the Canada Council Annual Reports over the same period. The policy documents and Annual reports were then triangulated against Library & Archives Canada material, Library of Parliament Reviews and relevant media in order to distinguish the economic rhetoric from the reality. In 2009 and 2010, the MTEP delivered $100 million in financial support to events and arts festivals across the country. Using a Freedom of Information request to access completed MTEP application forms, ministerial briefing notes, economic impact studies and Canada Revenue Agency data I evaluated the program’s specific goal of attracting cultural tourists. The MTEP case studies examined include Canadian Film, Folk Music and Jazz Festivals as well as The Shaw and The Stratford and Luminato Festivals. The dissertation exposes the increasing dominance of policy rhetoric over substance, with a neoliberal influence on engaging the arts for non-artistic purposes such as encouraging tourism. My review of these MTEP events and the inconsistent and sometimes missing reporting from them reveals a failure of accountability in economically orientated federal arts policy design and evaluation. These conclusions provoke a reconsideration of fundamentals in the design, implementation and evaluation of professional arts policy in Canada. The study concludes with a series of policy recommendations.

Document type: 
Thesis
File(s): 
Senior supervisor: 
Alison Beale
Department: 
Communication, Art & Technology: School of Communication
Thesis type: 
(Thesis) Ph.D.

Iranian Community Media in Stockholm: Locality, Transnationality, and Multicultural Adaptation

Author: 
Date created: 
2016-06-27
Abstract: 

This study of Iranian diasporic media is located in Stockholm which became an important intellectual centre for Iranian exilic political activities in the 1980s. Employing interviews, textual analysis and policy research methods, this dissertation finds that Iranian ethnic media (and particularly radio) in Stockholm have demonstrated resilience and managed to stay relevant despite threats from commercialization and multiplication of competition from new international satellite and internet information providers. Such outlets are stronger than ever, and in a population well into its second and third generations, on the precipice of generational change. Very little about the Persian-language media in Stockholm studied suggests they channel a cosmopolitan or intercultural discourse, refuting Hamid Dabashi’s simple account of “cosmopolitan dispositionality” of Iranians (2007). Instead, they foster an ethno-centric, nostalgic “Persianist” subjectivity because the language is exclusively Persian, with no minority languages represented; they exhibit intracultural marginalization, while largely excluding women, youth and religious minority voices; show little content or organizational outreach; do not tend to collaborate and rarely translate into Swedish to raise intercultural awareness. Nonetheless, while many have failed and others arisen, they continue to give voice and represent community and locality in ways that no Internet platform and satellite television can because they offer an important sounding board for orientations to identity as “Iranian” or “Persian” within the local socio-cultural context, proving crucial in the process of “onboarding” into the Swedish society. The main argument is that the field of diasporic and ethnic media studies has to disrupt both celebratory and cosmopolitan tendencies, and victimization and minority discourses. Sweden proves a useful ground to explore the neoliberal turn and its disruptive impacts on universalist and social democratic civic ideals, to disclose the parlous circumstance of community media even amongst an allegedly advanced social welfare state under recent Conservative attack and the institutional failures of assimilative strategies in humanitarian and refugee immigration, and multicultural media infrastructure among diasporic peoples. Only through careful, non-media centric study of the multicultural communication infrastructure can researchers begin to grasp the symbolic and connective needs of different diasporic communities. This study concludes with suggestions for the concrete affirmative steps that can be taken to both strengthen the institutional capacity of immigrants in their chosen communities, and their ethnic media and expand its intercultural appeal in Stockholm.

Document type: 
Thesis
File(s): 
Senior supervisor: 
Catherine Murray
Department: 
Communication, Art & Technology: School of Communication
Thesis type: 
(Thesis) Ph.D.

The Promotion of Overconsumption and Food Waste: A Critical Discourse Analysis of Supermarket Flyers

Author: 
Date created: 
2016-08-18
Abstract: 

In the late 1800s, major shifts in manufacturing, media, and marketing began to take place. During this time, advertisements in the food industry boomed as mass-produced goods were readily available to the public. With the technology that we have today, mass-produced food items are even more abundant, and so are the advertisements for them. Many popular food advertisements that we see today revolve around concepts such as abundance, convenience and affordability, concepts that we value in Western society. This article attempts to uncover the reasons why food waste is so abundant in Canada by using content analysis and critical discourse analysis on nine different Canadian supermarkets’ flyers. This research led to two conclusions: 1) that different supermarkets use different marketing strategies to encourage people to consume in specific ways and 2) the supermarkets that advertise themselves as being the most cost-effective use more marketing strategies, most which include bundle purchasing.

Document type: 
Graduating extended essay / Research project
File(s): 
Senior supervisor: 
Yuezhi Zhao
Department: 
Communication, Art & Technology: School of Communication
Thesis type: 
(Extended Essay) M.A.

Community Gardens in Vancouver: An exploration of communication, food sovereignty, and activism

Author: 
Date created: 
2016-08-04
Abstract: 

This research project used Claire Nettle’s analysis of community gardening, using social movement theory to assess whether Vancouver community gardens may be places of activism, in particular in raising understanding of and sympathy with the food sovereignty movement. Organizers of five community gardens were interviewed about their garden’s communication practices. The findings were to be similar to some of what Nettle found in her research. Community gardens are mixed spaces where some practices can be called activist, and others not. All of the gardens struggle with the issues that many volunteer-based organizations face. All of the gardens were seen by participants as public spaces which can not be isolated from the larger community, whether it is the neighbours or various visitors. This suggests that community gardens in Vancouver can be places where people practice acts that would support the food sovereignty movement in Canada.

Document type: 
Graduating extended essay / Research project
File(s): 
Senior supervisor: 
Alison Beale
Department: 
Communication, Art & Technology: School of Communication
Thesis type: 
(Extended Essay) M.A.

The Formation of Global Sports Fandom in China: Capitalism, Masculinities and World Order

Author: 
Date created: 
2016-08-23
Abstract: 

In the wake of the globalization of capitalism, cultural domination of the West has been legitimated on a global scale through transnational corporation (Schiller,1991). This essay argues that global sports fandom in China, which was facilitated by the global expansion of the Western sports industry, works as a mechanism of ideology, as it helps to reproduce Western masculinity in China through Chinese fans’ transnational identity towards Western sports brands. Following this, this essay uses global sports fandom in China as a microcosm to examine the myth of economic superpower and cultural vulnerability in post-reform China, which reflects on China’s complex role in shaping the contemporary world order.By using three-dimensional discourse analysis(Fairclough,1992), this essay locates the formation of global sports fandom in China in the context of the globalization of capitalism, in which the interweaving of the global expansion of Western sports industry and market economy reform in China collectively facilitated this cultural phenomenon. Following this, this essay uses the English Premier League fandom on Chinese social media platform Sina Weibo as a case study to explore how global sports fandom formed in the Chinese indigenous context through the strategy of cosmopolitanism and the deployment of fans’ emerging class consciousness in post-reform China. In addition, discourse analysis also examines how Western masculinity becomes hegemonic on a global scale through creating a sense of fraternity in global sports fandom.

Document type: 
Graduating extended essay / Research project
File(s): 
Senior supervisor: 
Adel Iskandar
Department: 
Communication, Art & Technology: School of Communication
Thesis type: 
(Extended Essay) M.A.

Constructed Hegemonic Femininity in the Realm of China’s E-commerce: A Case Study of Singles’ Day Sale

Author: 
Date created: 
2016-08-18
Abstract: 

This extended essay explores the construction of hegemonic femininity in the realm of Chinese e-commerce through a case study of the biggest online shopping festival in the world, the Singles’ Day Sale. It first outlines the post-2008 global political economic contexts that have given rise to the explosion of e-commerce as a platform for the promotion of domestic consumption in China. Then, it uses the methodology of multimodal discourse analysis to reveal how the images used to promote the Singles Day Sale construct consumption as a defining feature of hegemonic femininity in contemporary China. Finally, it examines the possible implications of this process for the status of Chinese women. The conclusion critiques how the collusion between patriarchy and capitalism has provided Chinese women with the sugar-coasted bullet of consumerism and unveils how this privileging of the consumption role of Chinese women conceals their productive role in society.

Document type: 
Graduating extended essay / Research project
File(s): 
Senior supervisor: 
Yuezhi Li
Department: 
Communication, Art & Technology: School of Communication
Thesis type: 
(Extended Essay) M.A.

A Canadian Press Perspective on China’s Rise: An Analysis of Globe and Mail Editorials, 2001-2015

Author: 
Date created: 
2016-08-15
Abstract: 

The world has seen China’s remarkable economic growth, its increasing military power and rising global influence since the end of the 1970s. Based on this background, this study is interested in Western media representations of China’s rise in the 21st century. The specific focus is how China’s rise is portrayed in one of the Canada’s national newspapers, the Globe and Mail, from 2001 to 2015. This study used a mixed-methods approach: a quantitative content analysis of 243 Globe and Mail editorials and a critical discourse analysis of approximately 20 percent of the data set. The findings revealed that China’s image presented in the Globe and Mail is paradoxical. The portrayals of China as an “important economic partner” and an “authoritarian communist country” coexisted in the newspaper’s editorials, with more emphasis on critiquing its role as an “authoritarian communist country”. This study argues that this divisive perspective of China is due to the newspaper’s Western-based understandings of liberal democratic capitalism. It assumes that the combination of market freedom and democratic political freedom is inevitable, and the pair is universal and appealing for every modern society. However, China’s triumphant combination of market economics and the one-party state challenges their assumptions and forces the Western media to reconsider the relationship between market economics and liberal democracy. This study argues that liberal democratic capitalism is not universal and that liberal democracy should be taken in context.

Document type: 
Graduating extended essay / Research project
File(s): 
Senior supervisor: 
Yuezhi Zhao
Department: 
Communication, Art & Technology: School of Communication
Thesis type: 
(Extended Essay) M.A.

The Image of China in a BBC Documentary and Chinese Audiences' Reception of it: The Case of The Chinese Are Coming

Author: 
Date created: 
2016-08-17
Abstract: 

China’s economic rise has led to competing images of the nation-state in the world’s media. Chinese audiences, for their part, are increasingly concerned with how the foreign media represent China. Against this background and taking into consideration the well-known reputation of BBC documentary film as one of the most authoritative Western media genres, this paper examines the 2011 BBC documentary film The Chinese Are Coming’s portrayal of China and its reception by selected graduate students at the Communication University of China and commentators at three online Chinese forums. The first part uses content analysis to break down the film into segments and examines its content in terms of seven subject areas and a series of key events, with a particular focus on the different tones of their treatment. It discovers that while a majority of the content is presented in a neutral tone, the film does contain one-sided representations of China’s global economic activities and thus contributes to the construction of a negative image of China. The reception analysis is equally mixed. Some audience members believe that The Chinese Are Coming is a media product that stigmatizes China on purpose. However, along with a minority of student interviewees and online commentators, I argue that the Chinese audience should take this film as an opportunity to reflect upon their government’s global strategies and foreign policies.

Document type: 
Graduating extended essay / Research project
File(s): 
Senior supervisor: 
Yuezhi Zhao
Department: 
Communication, Art & Technology: School of Communication
Thesis type: 
(Extended Essay) M.A.