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

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Bloody roots: Indigeneity and decolonization in the Latin American metal scene

File(s): 
Date created: 
2020-08-27
Supervisor(s): 
Gary McCarron
Department: 
Communication, Art & Technology: School of Communication
Thesis type: 
(Extended Essay) M.A.
Abstract: 

There is a strong heavy metal scene across Latin America, and within this scene Extreme metal bands incorporate and fuse regional indigenous sounds, images, and lyrics in the music. The central question and concern: how are decolonization expressed and carried out by the incorporation of local indigenous elements into the Heavy Metal genre in Mexico and El Salvador's heavy metal music scene? How can Extreme Metal be used as a viable tool towards decolonization and education? Music is an important form of art that enables a space for dialogue that can challenge dominant narratives, or to bridge an indigenous root that colonization has historically undermined. Colonial experiences in Latin America do not go unchallenged. The concern is to understand this decentralization of cultural diffusion and how it is a mechanism for decolonization. Indigenous sounds and culture are incorporated in fusion with American Heavy Metal framework that can become an educational tool for indigeneity and resistance towards colonial histories

Document type: 
Graduating extended essay / Research project

Decentralizing the Gender-blind Meritocracy: A technofeminist discourse analysis of women’s work in blockchain

File(s): 
Date created: 
2021-07-21
Supervisor(s): 
Peter Chow-White
Department: 
Communication, Art & Technology: School of Communication
Thesis type: 
(Thesis) Ph.D.
Abstract: 

Blockchain is the emerging, decentralized technology best known for powering cryptocurrencies. It connotes powerful narratives about socio-economic progress, democracy, transparency, and inclusion. Yet like many technology spaces, blockchain has a gender problem. According to a recent study of 100 blockchain startups, 14% of employees were women, and among those 7% were in leadership roles. Stakeholders have highlighted how gender-diverse tech teams are more innovative, profitable, and just. Yet proactive inclusion efforts are often dismissed as irrelevant in dominant tech cultures built on assumptions of postfeminist meritocracy. This dissertation cross-fertilizes macro-level discourses of the network society, meso-level discourses of the social shaping of technology, and micro-level discourses of technofeminism to offer new insights on how gender and technology shape one another. How do discourses about gender and technology enable or constrain women who work in blockchain? This study is based on a technofeminist discourse analysis of 30 interviews with women who work in the space, as well as 17 participant observations at blockchain meetups and conferences. It develops three discursive frames about gender and technology in blockchain into an analytical framework inspired by Hall's encoding/decoding model of communication. They include: (1) the dominant “gender-blind meritocracy,” (2) the negotiated, gender-conscious “lean into blockchain” frame and (3) the oppositional “intersectional inclusion” frame. Women perform the additional labour of ‘toggling’ between frames to navigate the material conditions of blockchain work. This study demonstrates how words do more than reflect reality. Words make worlds. Participants were both enabled and constrained by each of the discourses, depending on social context. The data suggests that both top-down organizational initiatives and bottom-up grassroots initiatives are necessary, but insufficient on their own, to create meaningful improvements for women in the space. Gender equity in tech spaces can not accurately be measured by the politics of representation, but by the politics of inclusion. This study offers new insights about broader sociotechnical shifts occurring at present with the rise of the equitable tech movement.

Document type: 
Thesis

Injury information at work: The exchange and distribution of lost labour power

File(s): 
Date created: 
2022-02-16
Supervisor(s): 
Enda Brophy
Department: 
Communication, Art & Technology: School of Communication
Thesis type: 
(Thesis) Ph.D.
Abstract: 

Workplace injury information in capitalist societies, where workers’ compensation systems (WCSs) prevail, appears as a collection of inductive indicators that measure the existence and degree of occupational health. This dissertation dissolves this form of appearance and presents an alternative view, where workplace injury information is treated as a social relation that has a history stretching back to the late nineteenth century. Situated within the field of political economy of information, this dissertation formulates the concept of injury information at work and contributes to the understanding of how it services a specific sector of the economy by constructing lost labour power for sale. It examines how injury information, as a group of signs that embody the substance of lost labour power, arose and developed, and how it fits into the capitalist mode of production. Overall, this dissertation reveals injury information as a historically social formation that operates as a class relation of exchange and distribution of lost labour power, namely, the value of the necessary means of repair, recovery and maintenance of injured wage labourers. It discloses how health protection, disease prevention and health promotion are de-prioritized with respect to the function of exchanging and distributing lost labour power.

Document type: 
Thesis

Security and health: Biopolitical health surveillance in China’s digital response to COVID-19

Author: 
File(s): 
Date created: 
2021-11-19
Supervisor(s): 
Ellen Balka
Department: 
Communication, Art & Technology: School of Communication
Thesis type: 
(Thesis) M.A.
Abstract: 

Why is health a security issue now? An emerging paradigm that links epidemics and security concerns has influenced how we think about health and the preparedness of health surveillance. As the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has swept the world with its tremendous threats to public health and societies, innovative digital health surveillance technologies have been (and continue to be) developed for pandemic surveillance. With a special focus on China’s Health Code system and its implementation in Wuhan since the Wuhan lockdown, this thesis aims to examine the surveillance dynamics of such technological artefacts. In doing so, this thesis applies institutional ethnography (IE) to illustrate how the ruling relations embedded in such assemblages coordinate and organize citizens’ everyday lives. The primary findings of this thesis suggest that Health Code as a health security practice is a flexible and dynamic surveillance assemblage embedded with political classifications and decisions to define and mediate risk in everyday settings, located in a larger network of power relations. The insecurities and anxieties brought by the normalized use of Health Code exacerbate the fear of being classified as sick, as the threat of illness leads people to embrace the current situation and cooperate with the existing surveillance system through the rationalization of collective norms and the valorization and stabilization of data-driven knowledge.

Document type: 
Thesis

Blockchain and gender digital inequalities in Africa: A critical afrofemtric analysis

Author: 
File(s): 
Date created: 
2021-07-07
Supervisor(s): 
Peter Chow-White
Department: 
Communication, Art & Technology: School of Communication
Thesis type: 
(Thesis) Ph.D.
Abstract: 

Advances in the technological sphere are synergistic with society’s progression. Technological innovations result in social realities, and these correspondingly remodel technologies to reconcile their functions and values with society’s needs. The birth of blockchain ushered in euphoric pronouncements about its disruptive potentialities for low-resourced societies. While dominant discourses frame it as a tool for enabling grassroots participation in socioeconomic activities, they ignore the societal embeddedness of innovations. A central premise of this study is that the modalities of blockchain’s adoption reflect, and to an extent cement, the inequitable gender power dynamics of its context. Drawing on principles of gender justice from my original critical theory afrofemtrism, technofeminism, and the social construction of technology, I examined the adoption of blockchain technologies in Ghana and its engagement with gender digital inequalities. My empirical data is from 33 qualitative interviews with participants in the blockchain economy. I found that investing and trading in cryptocurrency are the principal blockchain activities in Ghana. This evinces the perception of low entry barriers without needing specialized education. Additionally, participants are overwhelmingly male, and the women in the space navigate a complex existence of relegation and comity. Their presence in this male-dominated space opens them to ridicule, and yet they benefit from better transactional opportunities as people perceive them to be more trustworthy than the average man. Blockchain could engender financial emancipation for women and other marginalized social groups. However, conditions like the compound effect of inhibiting familial, societal, and cultural socialization on gendered interests and progression undercut these affordances. Blockchain in itself is, therefore, not a panacea. Interventions for social change must include gender justice-conscious policymaking, as well as nationwide conscientization of the underpinnings of gender digital disparities. This study’s findings are integral to advancing studies in gender disparities in a sociotechnical arena. It also contributes to knowledge emanating from the Global South, particularly regarding emerging technology.

Document type: 
Thesis

Shanzhai-ed Didi and the “New Chinatown”: WeChat-based ride-hailing among Chinese international students in Metro Vancouver

Author: 
File(s): 
Date created: 
2019-11-12
Supervisor(s): 
Kirsten McAllister
Department: 
Communication, Art & Technology: School of Communication
Thesis type: 
(Thesis) M.A.
Abstract: 

This thesis examines the role WeChat plays in the life experience of Chinese international students in Metro Vancouver, Canada, focusing on the use and development of ride-hailing platforms from July to November 2018. By following WeChat-based underground ride-hailing using multi-sited ethnography (Marcus, 1995) and interviewing students working as drivers and using these services, this thesis conceptualize WeChat as an assemblage (Slack, 2012) that combines infrastructures, networks, ideas and spaces, rather than another imported social media application hindering their acculturation. This thesis examines students’ economic and social practices in replicating a digitally-connected “Chinese” lifestyle in Canada through “shanzhai-ed” platforms on WeChat, which are shaped and restricted by local media discourses and regulations, including BC’s long-existing yellow peril discourse (Deer, 2006). Examining ride-hailing as part of the assemblage, this thesis showcases the entanglement of these students’ lives with technologies, social networks, labour and spaces in the local negative discursive and regulatory environment.

Document type: 
Thesis

Do the images of Chinese films mirroring imperialism? Take the Chinese film Wolf Warrior II as an example

Author: 
File(s): 
Date created: 
2021-08-30
Supervisor(s): 
Stuart R. Poyntz
Department: 
Communication, Art & Technology: School of Communication
Thesis type: 
(Extended Essay) M.A.
Abstract: 

The "Going Global" strategy of Chinese culture aims to allow foreign countries to understand Chinese culture better and convey the voice of peace through cultural forms such as movies. Wolf Warrior 2, a Chinese film, has a very high box office in China. It may be inconsistent with the way China hopes to portray itself on the global stage. This article uses the Chinese commercial film Wolf Warrior 2, released in 2017 and re-screened in 2020, as a research case to evaluate whether it reflects imperialist power. Through case analysis and text analysis of movie content, this article considers the mapping of Wolf Warrior 2 to imperialist power from the protagonist's image, lines, and movie images and reveals the causes of this phenomenon from the economic, political, and cultural aspects.

Document type: 
Graduating extended essay / Research project

MMORPG avatars: Representations of escapism in Chinese society based on semiotics of culture

Author: 
File(s): 
Date created: 
2021-08-27
Supervisor(s): 
Richard Smith
Department: 
Communication, Art & Technology: School of Communication
Thesis type: 
(Extended Essay) M.A.
Abstract: 

The development of Internet technology and globalization have boosted the game industry, and among which Massive Multiplayer Online Role-playing Games (MMORPGs) provide a space where players could create their own avatar at will, and generate their physical and psychological involvement to participate in the virtual experience of the game context. Through cases with semiotics analysis and cultural phenomenon, the correlation between in-game avatar and escapism in Chinese context would be examined on how do in-game avatars connect with escapism in China. This highly resilient virtual social space provides a malleable field far from reality, for the transition from culture to nature, from reality to illusion, and from self to digital self. By analyzing the correlation and rooted reasons between in-game avatar in MMORPGs and escapism in Chinese social context, this project will contribute to the re-understanding of the symbolic meaning of in-game avatars and realistic meaning in Chinese society.

Document type: 
Graduating extended essay / Research project

The press coverage of celebrity endorsements in political campaign

Author: 
File(s): 
Date created: 
2021-08-22
Supervisor(s): 
Daniel Ahadi
Department: 
Communication, Art & Technology: School of Communication
Thesis type: 
(Extended Essay) M.A.
Abstract: 

The press is regarded as a political instrument all over the world, and the media are an integral part of the political life in most democratic societies, serving for most people as their major and only link with the government and providing them with the information they need to make political decisions, based on their political dispositions. The mass media in every society can determine status and legitimacy of political leaders and issues, referred to as status conferral function of the media. The mass media can also lead in setting the political agenda for the audience by deciding what political topics the people talk about. This research essentially provides a quantitative content analysis on the nature of news coverage by three newspapers on celebrity political endorsement during political campaigns and the case of Ghanaian's election 2020 is employed as a case study.

Document type: 
Graduating extended essay / Research project

From criticism to imitation: Rethinking Tuwei culture in the Chinese cultural order

Author: 
File(s): 
Date created: 
2021-08-26
Supervisor(s): 
Yuezhi Zhao
Department: 
Communication, Art & Technology: School of Communication
Thesis type: 
(Extended Essay) M.A.
Abstract: 

The cultural order dominated by China’s mainstream society has long criticized the popular Tuwei culture on the Internet and its rural background. However, in recent years, mainstream media and official discourse have participated in Tuwei hashtag discussions and even borrowed its cultural form. This paper uses the popular "Cao County" hashtag video produced in May 2021 as a case to evaluate the narrative characteristics of Tuwei culture. Through critical discourse analysis and research on the discussions and comments of netizens and the media on this hashtag, this paper assesses the formation and dissemination of different ideological perspectives on this culture and uncovers the reasons behind Tuwei culture’s growing acceptance by mainstream Chinese popular culture.

Document type: 
Graduating extended essay / Research project