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

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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.

Ambivalence in China’s Quest for “Soft Power”: A Case Study of CCTV-America’s Multiple News Standpoints

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

The emergence of China Central Television-America (CCTV-America) can be seen as a significant landmark for China’s media globalization and “soft power” projection strategy. This paper analyzes the political and ideological orientation of CCTV-America’s news reporting as a way to understand China’s “soft power” drive. What are the station’s news standpoints? Are they consistent with each other in terms of reflecting a coherent political or ideological perspective? What political economic imperatives does the station’s news discourse reflect? In order to answer these research questions, I will describe CCTV-America’s institutional set-up, conduct newsroom observations at the station, as well as analyze its coverage of selected issues ranging from poverty in the U.S, the corruption in China, and the 2014 BRICS Summit, to the MH17 accident. In addition, I will also compare the news coverage of CCTV-America to CNN-International on events such as the death of Nelson Mandela and the Kunming terrorist attacks. The study not only provides evidence on CCTV-America’s progressive news standpoint, but also reveals its ambiguity, tension, as well as its ongoing negotiation of conflicting news values and perspectives in its news coverage. It explains this phenomenon in terms of CCTV-America’s conflicting political economic imperatives, its hybrid institutional identity, as well as the highly ambivalent nature of China’s “soft power” drive.

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.

Fandom, Youth and Western Pop Music in China

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

In the wake of globalization and social media, fan culture in China has undergone huge transformation. However, in the context of a socialist market economy (Fung, 2009) and state control, Chinese fan culture has shown different characteristics from elsewhere. This article attempts to provide a political and economic background that examines the development of fandom in China and investigates the relationship between young people and fan culture by looking into the practices of fan communities across western pop music.

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

The Latest Korean TV Format Wave on Chinese Television: A Political Economy Analysis

Author: 
Date created: 
2014-08-21
Abstract: 

Since China’s reform and open-up, the political economic structure of Chinese media has experienced a huge transformation. Though still officially controlled by the Chinese state, Chinese media have been increasingly relying on commercial avenues. In order to reach the most lucrative consumer segment, Chinese TV producers have been striving to attract the urban middle class and create entertainment programs that cater to their latest tastes. The theories of audience commodity and digital labor are able to explain how Chinese television programs are oriented to the urban middle class, to the neglect of the voices of more marginal social groups. Although the phenomenon of buying foreign program copyrights is not new for Chinese TV producers, the latest Chinese versions of Korean reality shows, exemplified by Dad, Where are We Going, have become a special genre with high audience ratings. However, with their omnipresent inserted ads and product placements, it is also clear that that Chinese television has been commercialized one step further. In doing so, these popular programs have strengthened their class bias in a more obvious way, allowing middle class values and ideologies to become the most prominent mainstream social values. This has further diminished the space for China’s working class and farmers to express their voices. As Chinese television is further subordinated to the commercial logic, it has also intensified its role in shaping class relations in Chinese society.

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.

Transnational communication of Chinese artefacts: the top-down and bottom-up model

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

Culture in the hegemonic process at the international relations level, according to Gramsci and neo-Gramscian scholars, could play both maintenance and resistance roles regarding the neo-liberal world order. After China’s entrance to the WTO in 2001, the transnational communication of Chinese artefacts has followed a state-centered and capitalist-directed top-down model, which maintains the neo-liberal world order. Chinese artefacts and culture that stand for or are created by subaltern classes are marginalized in this process, which intensifies the uneven world order. Accordingly, to gain a more even world order, culture should play a resistance role to challenge the current one. The bottom-up model should be added to the transnational communication of Chinese artefacts. The double line, both the top-down and bottom-up, is an ideal model for this counter-hegemonic process.

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