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

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Treading the Line: Seeking balance in information sharing and privacy in ActionADE

Author: 
Date created: 
2017-07-13
Abstract: 

Patient data in health care offers both opportunities and challenges that benefit from study through a sociotechnical lens. This thesis examines issues related to data sharing and privacy in the context of the development and implementation of ActionADE, a system designed to enable the communication and documentation of adverse drug events (ADEs), which are the harmful and unintended consequences of medication use. This thesis first explores the current policy environment surrounding health data privacy in British Columbia as it relates to ActionADE, and then contributes patient perceptions and attitudes about data sharing and privacy in the context of ActionADE through an analysis of focus group data. This thesis results in a series of recommendations for ActionADE, in order to identify information sharing preferences, privacy concerns, and policy constraints at the outset, striking a balance between the need to both disclose and protect personal health information.

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

Inventing Havana in Thin Air: Sound, Space, and the Making of Sonic Citizenship

Date created: 
2017-07-12
Abstract: 

The dissolution of the Soviet bloc (1989-1991) gave way to an acute economic crisis in Cuba known as the “Special Period in a Time of Peace”. In Havana, the island’s largest and most populated city, this historical moment consisted of widespread material scarcity, the dramatic increase of inequality, a housing crisis, and the re-emergence of the city’s once-famed tourist geographies—all of which compelled residents to engage what is known colloquially as la lucha: the struggle to make ends meet. Although the worst of the crisis is now over, many of Havana’s tenuous social, economic, and material conditions remain. This has prompted some to argue that the relationship between residents and the urban geography is conditioned by a logic of exclusion, and that the geo-social bond central to any notion of citizenship is fractured (Coyula, 2011; Ponte, 2002; 2011; Porter, 2008; Redruello, 2011). Yet, residents continue to spontaneously negotiate the precarity of everyday life, manifest in ingenuity with material objects, collective musical practices, or in individual maneuverings such as prostitution or street hustling (Del Real & Pertierra, 2008; Fernandes, 2011; Carter, 2008). This dissertation argues that residents also negotiate the precarity of Havana’s urban geography using tacit, embodied practices made tangible through sound and listening. It asks, what are some of the everyday sounds that comprise the city’s acoustic environments? How do such sounds accommodate or resist prevailing power structures? And to what extent can sound and listening mobilize a democratic spatial and political presence? Drawing from several months of ethnographic fieldwork, I argue that in the neighbourhood context, residents generate place-based social formations known as “acoustic communities” (Truax, 2001) that stand in contradistinction to the exclusionary logic of everyday life in the city. Borrowing from existing research in urban theory (Sassen, 2008; Holston, 1998; Cadava & Levy, 2003; Isin, 2000), I conceive of these social formations using the term sonic citizenship, which I define as the communal production of acoustic spaces by those without sustained access to political power. During moments when sonic citizenship is enacted, we hear not only the political agency of Havana’s residents, but also, the possibilities for the design of a future, more egalitarian city.

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

Gateway to Crisis: Discourse Coalitions, Extractivist Politics, and the Northern Gateway Conflict

Date created: 
2017-05-24
Abstract: 

This dissertation explores the political and social conflict over the proposed Northern Gateway pipeline and tanker project designed to diversify Canadian bitumen exports by linking the Alberta tar sands to international markets via British Columbia’s North Coast. It examines this conflict in the context of long-term processes of capitalist growth, Neoliberal Extractivist development, settler colonial expansion, and transnational economic integration. It explains how both the project itself and the political response to it emerged from and helped constitute a series of interrelated national and global economic, political, and ecological crises. In doing so, it identifies extractivist development in Canada as an extension of the broader Neoliberal class project. The analysis combines Gramscian theory, political economy and ecology, field theory, ideology critique, and power structure research to examine how various state, civil society, and industry actors coalesced into pro- and anti-Gateway discourse coalitions loosely aligned in service of common political goals. It explores how these coalitions themselves were integrated into and/or emerged from broader coalitions oriented around Neoliberal extractivism, ecoskepticism and transnational ‘market fundamentalist’ epistemic communities on the one hand and environmental, decolonial and left-wing politics on the other. The project examines the capacity of discourse coalitions to coordinate inter-field political projects by analysing 17 prominent civil society, First Nations, state and industry organizations supporting or opposing Gateway’s approval in the Canadian press between 2011 and 2014. To do so, it conducts an in depth discourse and frame analysis of communications materials produced by these actors as well as stories from four Canadian daily newspapers. It explores the ways actors from both coalitions generated and circulated opposing narratives combining elements of populism, nationalism, regionalism, environmentalism, and decolonialism to develop alternative concepts of interest and subjectivity which themselves facilitated differing interpretations of the distribution of ecological and economic risk and benefit. It supplements this discourse analysis with a social network analysis of the 17 organizations’ directorate boards, executives, and key staff to explore how the interpersonal and institutional networks of discourse coalitions allowed for the coordination of political projects and movements across social fields.

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

Spaces of convergence in a cancer clinical genomics trial: a survey examining genomic literacy among medical oncologists in British Columbia

Author: 
Date created: 
2017-04-10
Abstract: 

The emergence of big data in the network age has led to many innovative breakthroughs in all sectors of life. One significant breakthrough are the prominent applications of clinical genomics in developing personalized medicine. In this thesis I explore the technological diffusion of clinical genomics within the spaces of convergence of multidisciplinary medical stakeholders in the Personalized Onco-Genomics (POG) cancer clinical trial, I co-developed the concept of “Genomic literacy” by drawing upon three areas of scholarship: health communication, information communication technologies (ICTs), and science and technology. I gathered data using a survey and semi-structured interviews with medical oncologists and other scientists at. Using this data I examine how genomic literacy, attitudes, and experiences of the domain experts working with clinical genomics can determine the adoption of genomic technologies into clinical care. These spaces of convergence of multidisciplinary medical stakeholders also create a pedagogical space where the stakeholders come together. This bioclinical collective of stakeholders learn more about genomics through their communicative and discursive processes, as they co-construct knowledge and meaning with genomic information.

Document type: 
Thesis
File(s): 
Senior supervisor: 
Peter Chow-White
Department: 
Communication, Art & Technology: School of Communication
Thesis type: 
(Thesis) M.A.

Networks of memory: Vernacular photography, (new) media, and meaning making

Date created: 
2017-01-25
Abstract: 

Vernacular photography can be broadly defined as “ordinary photographs, the ones made or bought (or sometimes bought and then made-over) by everyday folk from 1839 until now” (Batchen, 2001, p.57). At first glance, with digital media and online communication technologies that allow us to send and receive countless images on a daily basis, contemporary social conventions associated with vernacular photography appear vastly different than they did in the mid-nineteenth century. What persists in the use (and reuse) of vernacular photographs is how they are called upon in meaning-making activities to help understand the past in and for the present. In this dissertation I examine meaning-making activities linked to recalling and reflecting on the past in specific ways: how historical exhibitions of vernacular photographs have influenced current practices of online exhibition; and how vernacular photographs are remediated and taken up in memory practices involving two particular projects, Collected Visions and Dear Photograph, that display crowd-sourced vernacular photographs in both gallery and online spaces. My research is informed by Actor-network theory (ANT) approaches that emphasize how action takes place in nodes where different actors meet and influence one another (Latour, 2005). Vernacular photographs and their exhibitions are the result of complex interactions between people, media, and technologies where information and meaning making is transformed, translated, and modified (Latour, 2005, p. 39). Research for this dissertation included visits to museums and archives and interviews with artists and curators who work with vernacular photographs. The variety of methods employed complement one another and allow for a type of ‘process-tracing’ where a variety of different data from different sources are examined to consider “the links between possible causes and observed outcomes” (George & Bennett, 2004, p. 6). Through analytical ‘origin stories,’ I present narratives of Collected Visions and Dear Photograph tracing how vernacular photographs are used, remediated, and displayed in ways that allow for the possibility of online spaces of exchange. I then offer ‘microstories’ that describe encounters with specific images and texts in Collected Visions and Dear Photograph in an effort to document memory work processes that emerged during my research.

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

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.