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

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Diasporic media in multicultural cities: a comparative study on Korean media in Vancouver and Los Angeles

Author: 
Date created: 
2012-04-18
Abstract: 

In multicultural cities, what are the opportunities and challenges for creating an interculturally inclusive media system, as a means of enhancing multicultural citizenship and cultural literacy among all members of society? This study explores the rapidly growing, yet understudied, Korean media sector in Vancouver and Los Angeles. The passage of Korea’s new election law in 2009, which extends voting rights to overseas Koreans, is likely to intensify the connection between the home country and one of the most monolingual and first-generation-dominant diaspora in Canada and the U.S. This dissertation advances the field of diasporic media by taking an interdisciplinary approach across the fields of multiculturalism and media. By synthesizing Will Kymlicka’s theory of multicultural citizenship and institutional integration for social inclusion, and Sandra Ball-Rokeach’s theory of urban communication infrastructure as a storytelling system, this study offers a critical analysis of multiculturalism as theory, policy, and practice, tracing its influence on diasporic communication infrastructure. Offering the largest media analysis yet assembled, this dissertation maps the social structure, media organizations, media content, and social interaction of diasporic Korean actors. By using Peter Dahlgren’s four-fold typology of the public sphere, structural and institutional conditions are identified as well as city-specific and ethnicity-specific factors in the production and distribution of diasporic media in general, and diasporic Korean storytelling in particular. Consistent with Kymlicka’s proposition that liberal multicultural citizenship must integrate diasporic identities in the public sphere, this study concludes that the Korean media in both cities contribute to creating a vital local public sphere. Nevertheless, regardless of the different official status of multiculturalism and regulatory contexts, Korean media have been constructed largely in the commercial sector, in which prevalent in-language marketing combined with the lack of policy supports results in the underutilization of Korean media as a means of enhancing cultural literacy for all members of society. Such a shortcoming requires more critical multiculturalism and communication theories and policies, in order to re-examine the existing conception of diasporic inclusion in mainstream institutions, to extend the benefits of diasporic media beyond diasporic communities, and establish an interculturally inclusive media system.

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

Re-collections: auratic encounters with database and archival artworks

Date created: 
2013-04-05
Abstract: 

This study considers Walter Benjamin’s concept of aura in the context of new media. Drawing from Benjamin’s writings as well as scholarly interpretations of his work, I argue that aura has not been eradicated despite technological advancements that have vastly increased the accessibility and mobility of images and image making. Following from interpretations of Benjamin that link the phenomenon of aura to an intrinsic human longing for transcendent fullness of (auratic) presence that can never be realized but persists in a partial state, I develop a general aesthetics of aura that centres on manifestations and representations of trace. I then modify my aesthetics of aura to account for dematerialization and other challenges of new media. My research methodology is phenomenological: I utilize autophenomenographic methods, iteratively documenting and reflecting upon my own embodied perceptions of auratic encounters with new media art. I compare my various observations in the context of the aesthetic criteria of aura previously identified, re-evaluating my original theoretical positions. I eventually confront the issue of aura’s potential instrumentalization, concluding that my accidental and chance encounters with aura, often the result of a design or programming oversight, ultimately cannot be reproduced and instrumentalized at will. I determine that in new media artworks, aura fundamentally lingers within these accidental ruptures that prevent immersive experience.

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

Resisting Hollywood? A comparative study of British colonial screen policies in the interwar Pacific: Hong Kong, Singapore and New Zealand.

Date created: 
2013-04-10
Abstract: 

Set against a background of imperialism, this study uses a comparative approach to investigate government policies toward, and interventions in, the motion picture industry prior to 1942 in three former British territories — Hong Kong, Singapore (Straits Settlements) and New Zealand. This study is broadly situated within new cinema history and is based on government and industry documents preserved in archives spanning several countries. Drawing upon political economy and media policy to inform the underlying narrative and analysis, the focus is explicitly on the development of the political and regulatory system governing the motion picture history in each polity. These developments defined the operational context and boundaries of the motion picture industry as a commercial and cultural institution, ultimately shaping the audience experience in each locality. The underlying political narrative in each locality is different. In Hong Kong, there was the lost opportunity of utilising local-language production to meet Imperial quota goals. Singapore presents the story of censorship and early attempts at multi-culturalism through social control. New Zealand events reveal a government attempting to use the motion picture industry for social control and to maintain a thoroughly British identity. What links the three cases together is the local governments’ struggle to balance satisfying the requirements of the Imperial government in London, and meeting the demands of both local audiences and of theatre owners dependent on Hollywood product. Each of these cases show the role which governments played in shaping the viewing experience for audiences, through explicit regulation such as censorship and cinema operating hours, and more hidden areas such as fire regulations, as well as the production and distribution of certain forms of motion picture. The study concludes that three broad policy imperatives explain the actions of governments in the motion picture industry: safety, both moral and physical; social control and development; and economic factors. The focus on the social-cultural context of the audience experience of cinema inherent in new cinema history is seen to provide an important dimension missing from political economy and its focus on structure and agency.

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

Youth, gaming, and the network society: exploring the agentic potential of gameplay in Minecraft

Date created: 
2013-03-14
Abstract: 

This thesis explores the agentic potential of gaming practices for young people. Manuel Castells’ (1996) theory of the network society helps to illuminate how online games typify the logic of neoliberal capitalism in the ways games are produced, marketed, and consumed. But games also exemplify the meaningful forms of bottom-up participatory practices enabled by the current socioeconomic and sociotechnical conditions that underlie the network society. Using Minecraft as the site of inquiry, the thesis takes a critical ethnographic approach to a case study to describe and analyze how and for what purpose young people take up gaming. It concludes by arguing that even the everyday forms of gaming practices can be agentic by enabling young people to take up meaningful practices and competencies in relation to identity, gender, learning, and sociality, despite the capitalist logic that heavily shapes young people's media landscape.

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

The Limits of Science in Determining Environment Priorities

Date created: 
2004
Abstract: 

The dissertation examines the influence exerted by government's own experts, particularly natural, social and applied scientists, in the making of environmental policy. It focuses on the priorities for environmental policy, rather than the policies themselves, and addresses the question of how and under what conditions expertise resonates within environmental priority setting. The research involved an extended case study within Environment Canada, between the years 1992 and 1995. In particular, it examined the Environment Canada Project Plan as it moved through its various stages of development, implementation and finally, failure to be approved. It examined other projects also proposed and possibly implemented during the same time period. Based on an extensive collection of documents, including internal departmental memos provided to this research, interviews and participant observation, it was observed that government experts were not always influential even in situations where the professed method of policy making was "science-based." The readily available government experts were not always asked for their advice, nor were they always listened to even when they were asked. A great deal of expert influence, or lack of influence, can be accounted for by serendipity, the effect of particular individuals in particular positions at particular moments in time. The overall conclusion of the research is that, despite adherence to the value of "science-based" decision-making, policy making (at least in this instance) was not science-based in any significant measure. Even in the setting of priorities for attention, and even in the field of the environment, policy making remains mainly responsive to factors other than science. The dissertation concludes by suggesting that greater emphasis on "sciencebased" policy making might go some distance to redressing the lack of influence of government experts. The discussion of specific policies might also be widened to allow people other than government officials to participate. It may well be that more attention to the contribution of experts might occur were the public involved in pressing for "science-based" policy.

Document type: 
Thesis
File(s): 
Department: 
School of Communication - Simon Fraser University
Thesis type: 
Thesis (Ph.D.)

Risk and the public right to know: Case studies of psychoactive drug prescribing patterns in British Columbia

Author: 
Date created: 
2005
Abstract: 

PharmaNet data shows marked variations in prescribing rates for psychoactive drugs across British Columbia and thus indicates potential risk to public health. Analysis of primary data obtained under Freedom of lnformation from the Ministry of Health's prescription database identified geographic and demographic prescribing extremes for antidepressants, stimulants and sedatives over 12 months ending July, 2003. From a medical perspective low rates indicate some patients who might benefit are untreated. High rates may indicate some patients are unnecessarily exposed to the potential risk of harm from side effects and adverse drug reactions. Under B.C.'s Freedom of Information law, information indicating significant risk to health and safety must be made public. Psychoactive drug prescription data should be posted in same way data as data on other health hazards such as toxic contamination sites. Disclosure would warn doctors and patients, encourage analysis by experts and media, and promote public discourse on psychoactive drugs.

Document type: 
Thesis
File(s): 
Department: 
School of Communication - Simon Fraser University
Thesis type: 
Thesis (M.A.)

""Redefining Canadian"": A participatory filmmaking, action research project with immigrant and refugee youth

Author: 
Date created: 
2005
Abstract: 

Short filmmaking is explored as a site for immigrant and refbgee youth to participate in ethnographic research, collaborative community inquiry, and media activism. The Redefining Canadian project took place over 9 months in 2004 and was a partnership between lead video mentor and research facilitator Joah Lui, the Multicultural Youth Circle Action, the Immigrant Services Society, and Video In Studios. Utilizing experimental, documentary and dramatic aesthetics, the youth created five films that problematize the stereotyped representations of youth, and especially immigrant and refbgee youth, in both mainstream society and its news media. The use of digital film technology within a participatory action research framework and a safe, creative environment, enabled these youth to access their imaginations, cultures and experiences and communicate their ideas through an expressive medium. The project opened spaces for intercultural learning and communication and serves to further the legitimacy of art and video as research tools.

Document type: 
Thesis
File(s): 
Department: 
School of Communication - Simon Fraser University
Thesis type: 
(Communication) Project (M.A.)

Language use and linguistic variations found in interactive media: A case study of Francophone youth

Date created: 
2005
Abstract: 

The current study will explore the complex ways in which language use and linguistic variations have been influenced by online interactive media. With a primary focus on research design and techniques, this study will address some of the methodological concerns raised in previous studies. A case study will identify interlocutors participating on MSN Messenger as a small group of francophone youth. Descriptive analysis will introduce linguistic features that could be selected as a possible set of variables andlor factors suitable for the future study of French language use and linguistic variations identified within interactive written communication.

Document type: 
Thesis
File(s): 
Department: 
School of Communication - Simon Fraser University
Thesis type: 
Thesis (M.A.)

Water talk: An analysis of monopolies of knowledge, risk communication and potable water policy in British Columbia

Author: 
Date created: 
2005
Abstract: 

Few in Canada were concerned about potable water until the Walkerton tragedy. Authorities at all levels have since pledged to strengthen water protection. British Columbia passed legislation intended to ensure the safety of its supply from "source to tap", and many municipalities have planned upgrades to their systems. Nevertheless, increasing numbers do not drink tap water but use bottled or filtered water instead. Why? Perception of risk depends on how, and by whom, it is communicated. Public practices indicate that drinking water policy and perceptions concerning risk are disconnected. Harold Innis' "monopolies of knowledge" and William Leiss' writings on the domination of nature and risk communication illustrate why this disconnect exists and Marshall McLuhan's "laws of media" are a method for identifying potential reversals of expected outcomes. This thesis addresses risk communication, analyses water policy and legislation, presents the results of a user survey, and makes recommendations for policy formation.

Document type: 
Thesis
File(s): 
Department: 
School of Communication - Simon Fraser University
Thesis type: 
Thesis (M.A.)

Measuring 'High Tech' Social Capital in the Biotechnology Sector Located in Vancouver, British Columbia

Author: 
Date created: 
2004
Abstract: 

The health of a regional economic system can be measured many ways. One of the indicators is a high rate of innovative practice. The study of innovation has many different facets including the social aspects of innovations, the creative aspects of knowledge flows and the geographic and social capital characteristics of innovative locales. Despite our knowledge of innovation and communication of innovations, there is a lack of ways to measuring innovation in high tech knowledge based economies that focus on measuring social capital. This work examines the Greater Vancouver Biotechnology sector as a case study for measuring social capital within a cluster. Initially, patent citations identify an active biotechnology cluster. Social capital networks were then identified as mattering to the cluster actors and were measured through the Internet. These web-based network measures of social capital show the health of a cluster and portray where current policy models are working.

Document type: 
Thesis
File(s): 
Department: 
School of Communication - Simon Fraser University
Thesis type: 
Thesis (M.A.)