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

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Corporate Social Responsibility in the Canadian Mining Sector: Ethics, Rhetoric, and the Economy

Author: 
Peer reviewed: 
No, item is not peer reviewed.
Date created: 
2015-04-10
Abstract: 

Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) has been promoted by the Government of Canada and Canadian mining companies as an appropriate model of self-regulation, accountability, and communication with the public since the launch of Canada’s 2009 CSR strategy for Canadian companies engaged in the international extractive sector. This thesis contextualizes CSR in the recent history of Canadian mining activity nationally and internationally, considering broad shifts in government communication and approaches to regulation. It applies a rhetorical analysis to CSR discourse, suggesting that Aristotle's categories of epideictic (celebratory) and deliberative rhetoric demonstrate how the strategic CSR communication of mining firms and government limits genuine debate and replaces it with a discourse prioritizing CSR's economic benefit over human rights, indigenous land rights, and labour and environmental concerns.

Document type: 
Thesis
File(s): 
Senior supervisor: 
Alison Beale
Department: 
Communication, Art & Technology:
Thesis type: 
(Thesis) M.A.

Cultivating Resistance? Urban Sustainability, Neoliberalism, and Community Gardens

Date created: 
2015-03-25
Abstract: 

In the past two decades sustainability has emerged as an important agenda in urban planning, with increasing international interest in urban compactness, smart growth, and healthy and sustainable communities. Drawing upon policies and practices implemented in major North American cities, particularly Vancouver, this thesis explores the various ends to which urban sustainability is being appropriated in practice. In particular, this study identifies an economistic and entrepreneurial ethos underlying municipal policy-making which reinforces a narrow, neo-liberal form of sustainability. It then explores the application of this ethos to community gardens, identifying a significant tension between grassroots practices of community gardening (which tend to pull sustainability in a more radical direction which fosters principles of social and environmental justice) and a developer/municipal government led appropriation of such practices (which are often built around maximizing profit and the privatization of urban space). This contextual exploration of sustainability policies, practices and politics adds to our understanding of neo-liberal urban responses to social and ecological crises, and the civic strategies that resist them.

Document type: 
Thesis
File(s): 
Senior supervisor: 
Shane Gunster
Department: 
Communication, Art & Technology:
Thesis type: 
(Thesis) M.A.

Communication and interprofessional collaborative practice: collective sensemaking work

Author: 
Date created: 
2014-12-08
Abstract: 

Communication is often listed as a key ingredient for effective interprofessional collaborative practice (ICP) in health care, and is frequently conceptualized as information transmission. Without denying this important function, I propose to problematize communication as constitutive, social action. This allows us to understand ICP as a process of collective sensemaking that emerges in and through communicative action. Taking seriously the term practice in ICP, this ethnography adopts a practice theory lens, informed by ethnomethodology and interaction analysis, to examine and characterize a specific practice: the interprofessional patient case review in daily team rounds. This practice is seen to be collectively enacted in routines and socio-materially embedded in other practices. The study draws on observations and audio recordings of 4,000 patient case reviews from 120 daily rounds of 3 interprofessional acute care teams in a university hospital in Western Canada. Variations in practice within and across the teams prompted three interrelated and emergent analyses. First, I show the importance of introductions to case reviews as salience-framing resources that emplot the patient’s situation on the care trajectory for listening team members, thereby underscoring the essential gatekeeping role played by charge nurses. I argue an interprofessional performance has to do with heedful interrelating, discernable in interaction as displayed mindfulness of difference and an attentiveness to expressions of uncertainty. Second, I recast the question of medical dominance in terms of authorship, and consider its interactional enactment. Here, the presence of a medical representative changes the focus of sensemaking work as well as the audience for whom talk is designed. Third, I examine potential stabilizers of sensemaking practice in the context of shifting team composition. Practice is stabilized and continuity of the patient’s story maintained through the participation of multiple authors or “story porters,” both human and non-human, shedding new light on IP and multivocality. These findings inform a model of IP sensemaking in the patient case review, especially highlighting the key role of the hybrid nurse-and-notes actor and the importance of sensitivity to expressions of uncertainty. The model could be useful in teaching interprofessional practice to students and practitioners.

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

Food sovereignty as multiple resistances: the Honduran movement in global context

Date created: 
2014-09-19
Abstract: 

Food sovereignty reconciles the local and global in its creative political imaginary of the meaning of sovereignty that justifies “multiple resistances.” This research explores this reconciliation of local and global through the case study of the food sovereignty project being advanced by campesino organizations in the Aguán Valley, Honduras, as situated within the dynamic nexus of local and global discourses, movements, and material realities. I argue that food sovereignty reconceives sovereignty as multiple, fixed and relational. The food sovereignty project invokes state sovereignty as a tool of resistance against the global corporate food regime, while also pushing to open new spaces for multiple sovereignties in both form and jurisdiction. As a collective rights framework, food sovereignty movements mobilize human rights frames to address immediate needs while continuing a long-term struggle for communal rights rooted in “alternative” peasant ways of living and working. This case study also raises questions about the relationship between different political and agroecological expressions of food sovereignty. While local and global food sovereignty discourses and practices are largely congruent, it is important to also consider how other tensions exists within and across different movement spaces. Food sovereignty holds great creative potential but also faces considerable challenges to the realization of its emancipatory project.

Document type: 
Thesis
File(s): 
Senior supervisor: 
Katherine Reilly
Department: 
Communication, Art & Technology:
Thesis type: 
(Thesis) M.A.

The Sexual Workshop: A Technology and Phenomenology of Internet Porn

Author: 
Date created: 
2014-06-03
Abstract: 

This thesis is an attempt to develop a synthetic philosophical analysis that will shed light on the meanings of online pornography for contemporary masculinity, set against the background of longstanding feminist debate about the nature and role of pornography in contemporary societies, and borrowing strongly from ideas found in Heidegger's writing on technology and Dasein, as well as Marcuse's analysis of eros. I argue that the “others” of our erotic fantasies are replacing the humans we are closest to, as we ourselves are being transformed into “others” by the technologies that surround us. This view is in contrast with much of the discourse on sexuality up to the present day, a discourse that is strongly influenced by a subject-object dualistic framework strongly influenced by Freud. I suggest that often self-produced, interactive pornography, is emerging as a new kind of “incitement mechanism” in regards to human sexuality. Yet, interactive pornography is still at an early stage of development and its future is far from clear. It might potentially open up alternative, potentially liberating, modes of sexual experience, or simply reproduce existing forms of masculine oppression.

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

LFG: Looking for Global (and Local) in Online Gaming

Date created: 
2014-08-20
Abstract: 

‘Global’ and ‘Local’ are prevailing terms used to indicate the varying and often opposing characteristics of different subjects in the context of globalisation. Yet what is meant by their use is multifaceted and not discrete: ‘global’ and ‘local’ apply different according to what is being examined. To demonstrate and clarify the diversity of globals and locals, this paper investigates how three such uses apply to online computer games. Online games embody many clearly identifiable aspects of globalisation, such as the compression of space and time, the fear of alienation of communities and individuals, and the question of the role of the nation-state. These three aspects of online games will be considered in terms of ‘global’ and ‘local’.

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.

Consuming communication: promotion, expertise, and sustainability in an age of participatory media

Author: 
Date created: 
2014-11-03
Abstract: 

Taking as its point of departure the historical processes of mediatization and reflexive modernization, this dissertation examines the circuits of promotion, expertise, and meaning that mutually constitute the production and consumption of the smartphone. Through a focus on the online media practices of manufacturers, technology publishers, and consumers, the research maps the sociocultural mediation of this ubiquitous communication technology and considers the material aspects of this mediation in light of global environmental risk. As privileged media producers, manufacturers signify smartphones as revolutionary achievements of technoscience: powerful artefacts that expand user capacity for agency, enjoyment, and sociability. Within a context of networked individualism, smartphones are positioned as shape-shifting devices that may be continually adapted to fluid tastes, social settings, and evolving life scripts. Although technology obsolescence and production are primary contributors to overall environmental impact, manufacturers shift attention to e-waste disposal and consumer responsibility. In their role as observers of the consumer electronics industry, technology publishers expand manufacturer promotion in time and space. As technology experts, authors circulate a collective taste for novelty, distinction, and performance. While published articles may be understood as practical resources for consumers navigating a complex space of artefacts and promotion, this expertise excludes considerations of long-term ownership, repair, and the environmental aspects of technology consumption. This circuit of promotion and expertise provides a foundation for consumer sociability that both enlivens and undermines the activities of manufacturers and industry experts. While avid consumers express collective enthusiasm for new technologies, they are cynical towards promotion as a practice, question the predominant smartphone ideal, and attempt to influence manufacturer design strategies. This popular discourse broadens the scope of cultural resources available to users, but simultaneously reproduces dominant consumption norms that legitimize rapid technology obsolescence. These findings suggest that despite increased public sensitivity to global environmental risks, the production and consumption of new communication technologies represents a continuation of first modernity processes. The disconnection between general environmental risk awareness and its specific manifestation in everyday life points towards the need for an expanded popular expertise and green citizenship as a basis for democratic rationalization and governance of media technology.

Document type: 
Thesis
File(s): 
Senior supervisor: 
Richard Smith
Department: 
Communication, Art & Technology:
Thesis type: 
(Thesis) Ph.D.

Environmental communication with Chinese characteristics: crises, conflicts, and prospects

Author: 
Date created: 
2014-10-14
Abstract: 

In the past three decades, the deterioration of our natural environment has stimulated heated debates and disputes, in which China has been regarded as a key player in contemporary environmental crises. This thesis examines how China’s environmental challenges and its government’s responses are discursively constructed in news media. At the theoretical level, China’s contemporary environmental crises are scrutinized through the lenses of environmental communication and political economy, which addresses the uniqueness of these environmental challenges compared with those in the Western context. At the methodical level, the thesis adopts a critical discourse analysis (CDA) perspective to analyze the presentation of social actors and the argumentation strategies in two high-profile environmental incidences in China: the air pollution in Beijing and the 2012 anti-PX protest in Ningbo. The empirical analysis shows that both cases indicate a lack of environmental justice perspective in China’s current environmental policies and media practices. They also reveal the necessity of reviewing the urban-centric and elitist perspectives embedded in China’s contemporary media practices. Overall, this study adds to our understanding of the discursive and ideological underpinnings of China’s environmental challenges and the significance of developing “environmental communication with Chinese characteristics”.

Document type: 
Thesis
File(s): 
Senior supervisor: 
Shane Gunster
Department: 
Communication, Art & Technology:
Thesis type: 
(Thesis) M.A.

Qatari Foreign Policy, Al-Jazeera, and Revolution in the Middle East and North Africa

Date created: 
2014-11-27
Abstract: 

Popular ambiguity surrounding the relationship between Qatar, Al-Jazeera, and the latter organization’s championing of the Arab Spring has inhibited transparent and constructive debate on the geopolitical ramifications of Al-Jazeera’s coverage of events inside Tunisia, Libya, and Syria, thus indirectly leading to the deteriorating security situation being witnessed in the Arab world today, which runs counter to liberal-democratic reform. My thesis ultimately argues that Al-Jazeera’s journalistic ethos must be reformed in order to promote media democracy, liberal-democracy, and to contain the incessant growth of militant fundamentalism in the Arab World. I use two major research strategies: (1) a quantitative analysis of data on the promotion of “Brand Qatar”, of which Al-Jazeera is a part and parcel, and (2) three country-specific case studies of the relationship between Qatar, Al-Jazeera, and the Arab uprisings comprising Tunisia, Libya, and Syria. Data was collected from academic journals and books, press reports, Al-Jazeera archives, and interviews.

Document type: 
Thesis
File(s): 
Senior supervisor: 
Robert Hackett
Department: 
Communication, Art & Technology: Communication
Thesis type: 
(Thesis) M.A.

Distracted Driving: The New Alcohol. A Case Study of a Rising Public Health Issue in British Columbia

Author: 
Peer reviewed: 
No, item is not peer reviewed.
Date created: 
2014-08-21
Abstract: 

In the risk society, the public mobilization around emerging environmental and health risks associated with new technologies become the central challenge for a sustainable and healthy democracy. Ulrich Beck defines reflexive modernization as the ability of democratic societies to develop scientific understandings of emerging risks associated with new industrial technologies. Reflexive modernity is galvanized by progressive eco-politics that guide better ways of managing and mitigating systemic environmental and health risks. This thesis examines evidence of the growing scientific understanding of health risks associated with distracted driving-caused road accidents as a case study exploring Canada’s ability to translate this risk science into progressive public policy that improves road safety. The study starts by exploring historical risk communication strategies and their role in altering drivers’ behaviours and compliance with legislations limiting speed, impaired driving, and seatbelt use. It then reviews evidence of the new risks associated with using electronic communication devices while driving which has resulted in legislation prohibiting the use of hand-held devices by drivers across Canada and in BC. Three years into the legislation, this study found that at the very least 1.7% of all drivers are currently distracted behind the wheel. Through surveys and focus groups, the thesis explores why drivers are not willing to give up their communication habits despite existing legislations and sanctions. Recent crash data demonstrated that deaths attributed to distracted driving declined more slowly in British Columbia than from drinking, speeding, and non-use of seatbelts. The research concludes with a discussion of the importance of the lifestyle risk communication for a healthier reflexive modernity in British Columbia.

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