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

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Living with the revolutionary legacy: Communication, culture and workers' radicalism in Post-Mao China

Author: 
Date created: 
2011-06-27
Abstract: 

China in the reform era has seen its expanded industrial labour force fragmented along cleavages such as localities, industrial sectors, ownership patterns, gender and generational gap, and above all, a hukou system that creates a deep fissure between urban workers and rural migrant workers. Accordingly, varieties of contending political ideologies have influenced the nature, directions, dynamics and trajectories of labour politics and labor movements in post-Mao China. However, current scholarship in labor studies tends to focus on Chinese workers‘ resistance along with trade unionism and theorize the formation of their insurgent identities in terms of labour and industrial citizenry. This one-dimensional and unilinear liberal perspective often characterizes workers‘ invocations of China‘s revolutionary and Maoist socialist legacies as either the signs of nostalgia or the tactical weapons of struggles for livelihood. This dissertation takes issue with this emergent academic orthodoxy, which purports to bid farewell to China‘s revolutionary and socialist past and declare the end of class in Chinese politics. It foregrounds fragmentary groups of Chinese workers whose class-consciousness is counter-hegemonic and alternative to trade unionism. Drawing on a formational approach to class analysis and foregrounding communication and culture as a pivotal site, this dissertation investigates a sectional posture of Chinese workers‘ autonomous communication activities and their everyday cultural practices of resistance, largely obscured and suppressed by China‘s repressive regime of media representation. The multi-faceted research encompasses fieldwork, discourse analysis and case studies on communicative and cultural activities involving both urban industrial workers and rural migrant workers. The inquiry sheds light onto the continuing relevance of China‘s revolutionary and Maoist socialist legacies to the subjectivity and agency of segments of the Chinese working class. The findings point to contestation, rather than consensus, as the defining feature of working-class subjectivity formation and serve as a caveat for any generalization regarding the nature of labour politics in a deeply fractured post-Mao Chinese society. The dissertation recovers the ―missing links‖ in Chinese political studies, labour studies, and communication studies.

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

The market odyssey: why and how was ‘the market’ discourse incorporated in the party program of the Communist Party of India (Marxist) during the days of the Communist Party of China’s ‘market socialism’?

Date created: 
2011-06-03
Abstract: 

As one of the world’s largest Communist parties, the Communist Party of India (Marxist) [CPI(M)] considered Deng Xiaoping’s ‘socialist’ engineering as an experiment to circumvent the purely ‘statist’ model of socialism that was failing to manage peoples’ aspirations. The CPI(M)`s experience of being in power in West Bengal from 1977 taught the party that merely offering the people an “intermittent relief program” might not be enough to retain power. It therefore started its search for reforms based on generating new industries and employment through private capital around 1984-85. In the party’s new discourse, the market would take charge of building super markets and socialist policies would look after the poor people. This new communication narrative was constituted by three elements - the state, the party and the market - instead of the old state-party model. This thesis is based on conversations in 2010 with leading party thinkers, work in party archives in 2009 and 2010, and ten years experience as a journalist working in West Bengal as well as other parts of India.

Document type: 
Thesis
File(s): 
Senior supervisor: 
Robert Anderson
Yeuzhi Zhao
Department: 
Communication, Art & Technology: School of Communication
Thesis type: 
(Thesis) M.A.

Portrait of a culture worker: identity, agency, and the educational genesis of the graphic designer

Date created: 
2011-01-06
Abstract: 

This socially grounded study examines the tension-filled discourses and social pressures that influence young graphic designers in the construction of their occupational identities. The discursive practices of recent graduates from a graphic design college are examined, in order to uncover the negotiations and compromises that sustain their occupational identities. Identity is formulated as multifaceted and negotiated in dialogue and social practice. In seeking to develop agency, this study concludes that education for creative workers may take a cue from their own discourses of creativity. By integrating self-reflexivity into the educational curriculum, they may begin to dialogise the educational process itself, thereby rescuing creative agency from the structural constraints of fetishized discourse.

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

Media and democratization in Nigeria: state, capital and civil society

Date created: 
2010-12-08
Abstract: 

The dissertation critically examines the still evolving process of neoliberal democratization and its impact on the philosophy and structure of the Nigerian media. The return of civil rule in 1999 following decades of military despotism naturally generated a great deal of expectation regarding the prospects of a more democratic media system that would foster popular participation in development and governance. Well over a decade into the democratic experience, not much has changed as the country’s media, particularly the broadcasting sector continue to stagnate under military era policies and legislations that automatically became Acts of parliament. The lack of substantive democratization by way of policies and regulations required of a democratic society is further compounded by the selective application of neoliberal policies relative to the political and economic interests of the ruling elite as evidenced by the contrasting policies in broadcasting and telecommunications in which the former remain largely under the stranglehold of the state and the latter almost fully deregulated. Further, the sustained advocacy of coalitions of civil society groups on a host of issues geared towards a more democratic, participatory and accessible media have thus far failed due to the shenanigans of members of parliament and top government officials who want to maintain the status quo. The apparent democratic deficit of the Nigerian media speaks directly to the limits of her current neoliberal democratization. The study draws from both postcolonial and globalization studies as well as critical political economy to explain the complexity of the Nigerian nation and context of its democratization. And given the widespread government abuse of the media in Nigeria, it identifies with the liberal critique of an overreaching state, but not necessarily its unfettered market prescription. Instead, it endorses a social democratic and plural media system not controlled by a leviathan state or behemoth capital; an inclusive system that goes beyond political and economic elites and the urban middle class to also serve the interests of minority groups and cultures, marginal voices and the often overlooked rural peasant populations.

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

The military audience commodity: reopening the blindspot debate

Date created: 
2010-12-01
Abstract: 

This thesis attempts to establish the existence of the military audience commodity, while simultaneously reopening and addressing the shortcomings of the “blindspot” debate concerning Dallas Smythe’s concept of the audience commodity. Organized around three pillars of the blindspot debate – the role of the state, industry, and labour – this thesis argues that the U.S. military plays a role to play in “putting audiences to work”. An historical analysis is augmented by a case study of the Pentagon's recent “America Supports You” public relations campaign. It is argued that attending to the social and cultural specificities of this case study provide novel ways to expand the political economic theory of the audience commodity.

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

New literacies, Japanese youth, and global fast food culture: Exploring youth critical agencies

Author: 
Date created: 
2010-11-02
Abstract: 

This thesis explores the critical agencies expressed by a group of Japanese youth asked to reflect on their understanding of fast food cultures in the context of a global consumer-media environment. New literacies and the concepts of the young cyberflâneur and the phoneur are used to define and map the youths’ agentic practices, while various qualitative research methods are employed to investigate how eight Japanese high school students understand the meaning and impact of McDonald’s in their lives. Reflecting the multimodal literacies through which youth now express themselves, the thesis experimented with the use of mobile phone cameras, alongside group photo-interviews, as tools for exploring youths’ understanding of McDonald’s and contemporary fast food cultures. By way of conclusion, the thesis considers the students’ unique perspectives as emergent forms of critical agency and the implications of this research for student-teacher relationships in the context of critical media education.

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

Video research: documenting and learning from HIV and AIDS communication strategies for social change in Ghana

Author: 
Date created: 
2010-05-18
Abstract: 

The dynamic landscape of global communications continually presents new challenges for the design and analysis of media and communication within international development projects. This Masters project uses video and web technology to document, explore and extend the role of communication in a CIDA funded HIV and AIDS stigma reduction project in Ghana, West Africa. The project includes a documentary video entitled: The Challenge of Stigma, Reflections on community education as a pathway to change. The video looks at the situation of AIDS related stigma in Ghana and draws from 50 interviews to highlight the University teacher-training program delivering HIV/AIDS education through distance learning. A collaborative production process is detailed in this project report in efforts to discuss project challenges as well as to propose an open and collaborative approach to media production and communication for development strategies.

Document type: 
Graduating extended essay / Research project
Senior supervisor: 
Martin Laba
Department: 
Communication, Art & Technology: School of Communication
Thesis type: 
((Communication) Project) M.A.

Constructing the coming plague: a discourse analysis of the British Columbia Pandemic Influenza Preparedness Plan

Date created: 
2010-06-25
Abstract: 

This study explores how pandemic flu is constructed as a threat to public health in the British Columbia Pandemic Influenza Preparedness Plan such that planning for it makes common sense. Despite a history of critical research on constructions of disease, social sciences literature on pandemics is primarily practical. This study takes a critical approach using discourse analysis, which focuses on how meaning is created and shared through language use. The analysis shows how rhetorical and linguistic strategies--including active language and statistics; limited adjectives, adverbs and metaphors; recalling the past as a key to the future; reference to expert knowledge; and conferring moral responsibility onto the public to feel at risk--construct a pandemic flu as inevitable, significant and manageable. It seems to follow that such a potentially catastrophic outbreak demands considerable attention and resources. The construction makes commonsense because it is based on a familiar narrative: risk avoidance and pursuit of optimal health are fundamental responsibilities of citizens, who are enabled in these efforts by expert knowledge and the progressive discoveries of medical science. However, discourse analysis challenges common sense, revealing potential implications of social constructions. In this case, implications stem from two tensions in the plan's discourse. First, a theme of partnership and empowerment is evident, but it conflicts with a co-existing theme of authority and control. Second, although the public is addressed as an audience of the plan and exhorted to be active participants, ultimately our role is to wash our hands, receive timely information from experts, and generally "be involved." The implication is lack of clarity on who is responsible for what when difficult decisions need to be made and actions need to be taken around a pandemic. Ultimately, the analysis reveals that language need not be dramatic to wield power. It also demonstrates that disease, despite its "biomedical reality," is socially constructed, often such that the interest and values at play are obscured. The British Columbia Pandemic Influenza Preparedness Plan is not just an attempt to protect the public from an outbreak, but a reiteration of a worldview that should be challenged from time to time.

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

Online representations of African Canadian cinema (2000-2010): an ethnographic and archival analysis

Author: 
Date created: 
2010-08-13
Abstract: 

Populations of African descent have been geographically present within the territory that constitutes Canada for over three centuries. While cinematic representation is a relatively recent phenomena that has only been a factor over the last few decades it may serve as an archive or library that preserves the memories of past, current and future generations of African Canadian populations. The focus of this Masters project is the cinematic representation of African Canadians and how this representation has been translated into the burgeoning online environment as characterized by the rise of the Internet and “Web 2.0” technologies. The project is comprised of a written component in the form of a project paper and a web technology component in the form of a research blog African Canadian Cinema: A Guide to African Canadian & African Diaspora Cinema.

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

Structuring the field(s): user-generated tags and the archive at CBUT Vancouver

Date created: 
2010-02-26
Abstract: 

This thesis explores the potential conflict between user-generated tags and traditional archiving practices in the broadcasting industry. Changing technological configurations in the field of television news often have unforeseen consequences. The installation of a video server at Canadian Broadcasting Corporation Vancouver Television in 2007 has the potential to shape the process of accessioning records used by the media librarians by creating new possibilities for the collection of tags throughout the production process. The current information architecture consists of a data structure and a set of practices that combines descriptive metadata constructed by media librarians with automatically generated metadata gathered from the production process. Allowing user-generated data in the form of descriptive tags attached to media assets to pass through to the information architecture has the capacity to destabilize the existing taxonomy of controlled terms used by the librarians. Any move towards allowing tags into the system should proceed with extreme caution.

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