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

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Collective struggle: A case study of Chinese grassroots feminism in the digital age

Author: 
Date created: 
2020-09-24
Abstract: 

Contemporary China has witnessed the transformation of Chinese feminism from state feminism to grassroot feminism. Weibo hashtag #DontYouBeAfraidYourSistersAreHere is a typical grassroot feminist movement in China which triggered by a sexual violence case “Bao Yuming Case” since April 2020. To carry forward such movement, Chinese cyberfeminists have employed localized tactics to build up online counterpublics and expand social influence while under the rules of Weibo algorithm and government censorship.

Document type: 
Graduating extended essay / Research project
File(s): 
Supervisor(s): 
Cait McKinney
Department: 
Communication, Art & Technology: School of Communication
Thesis type: 
(Extended Essay) M.A.

The social construction of blockchain privacy platforms

Author: 
Date created: 
2020-07-21
Abstract: 

Our current Internet environment is characterized by online conglomerates, predictive computing and data mining. With this, there is a growing concern among users on how to protect their privacy and manage their identities online. Advocates for blockchain, the newest large-scale wave of Internet based platforms, argue it is highly useful for privacy protection. Blockchain is an encrypted and decentralized public ledger that verifies and stores information through a peer-to-peer network. Using the social construction of technology (SCOT) as a theoretical framework, I deploy a comparative discourse analysis of three blockchain platforms - Brave, Civic and Oasis Labs - along with user discourse on Reddit and Medium. This thesis explores how users socially construct this emerging technology by comparing privacy discourse between blockchain platforms and motivated social agents. I found blockchain privacy platforms and its users both value data ownership, ad-blocking and safety and security. However, there is also friction and disagreement about themes of trust and ethics as well as usability.

Document type: 
Thesis
File(s): 
Supervisor(s): 
Peter Chow-White
Department: 
Communication, Art & Technology: School of Communication
Thesis type: 
(Thesis) M.A.

The NBA as a platform for political rhetoric: The case of Daryl Morey, Hong Kong and the Chinese government

Author: 
Date created: 
2020-08-31
Abstract: 

This essay introduces additional insights to literature which examines a social media post by Daryl Morey; a general manger of a National Basketball Association (NBA) franchise who on October 4, 2019 published a graphic which professed support for a protest movement occurring in Hong Kong and has sparked retaliation from Chinese business and government entities against the NBA. I first evaluate the NBA as a sports league which permits its actors to speak about political issues to contextualize and highlight Morey’s action of publishing this graphic. I then examine the NBA’s history in China to reveal potential ideological incongruities between the American-based NBA and Chinese government. Finally, I detail the polarizing convictions about the Chinese government’s jurisdiction over Hong Kong and the visceral discourse surrounding the severity of Morey’s tweet to scrutinize the contentious opinions about his action domestically (United States) and internationally.

Document type: 
Graduating extended essay / Research project
File(s): 
Supervisor(s): 
Courtney Szto
Department: 
Communication, Art & Technology: School of Communication
Thesis type: 
(Extended Essay) M.A.

Prejudice, discrimination, and immunology paradigm: A critical discourse analysis of the New York Times' reports on the respective responses to COVID-19 by China and Italy

Author: 
Date created: 
2020-08-31
Abstract: 

During the COVID-19 outbreak, mainstream U.S. news agencies reported on different countries' responses to COVID-19. However, these articles often politicalize and racialize the healthcare issue. In this study, I ask how The New York Times (NYT) presents China's coronavirus responses and why through a comparative analysis. Specifically, I conduct a frame analysis and critical discourse analysis on 122 NYT news and opinion articles on China's and Italy's respective coronavirus responses between January and March 2020. My main finding is that the NYT depicts China negatively and presents Italy positively through simplified generalizations. I further explain that the othering process of China in the NYT reports demonstrates an immunology discrimination process in which news serves as a social immune system in the U.S. context.

Document type: 
Graduating extended essay / Research project
File(s): 
Supervisor(s): 
Yuezhi Zhao
Department: 
Communication, Art & Technology: School of Communication
Thesis type: 
(Extended Essay) M.A.

Authentic self branding on social media and its effects on global culture flows: A case study of K-pop group SuperM

Author: 
Date created: 
2020-08-31
Abstract: 

The integration of social media in the entertainment industry has changed fan/celebrity relationships and practices. Celebrities’ presentation of authentic self-images is especially important for fostering emotional attachment and forming parasocial relationships for fanbase maintenance. This is particularly important for the Korean pop culture industry where globalization is the industry’s ultimate goal. This capstone project aims to explore how K-pop celebrities use social media to promote authentic self-branding that attracts global audiences through examining specific forms of authenticity that members of the K-pop group SuperM uses on their personal Instagram accounts and the fan/celebrity interactions that result from the posts. Findings of the study show four qualities of authenticity as well as four aspects of culture that are prominent in the posts. Taking this into account, this paper argues that the authenticity and self-branding presented in SuperM’s Instagram posts inherently promotes Korean and K-pop culture, which in turn has the potential to affect fans’ cultural identities and offer a counter-culture flow that challenges cultural imperialism from the West

Document type: 
Graduating extended essay / Research project
File(s): 
Supervisor(s): 
Aleena Chia
Department: 
Communication, Art & Technology: School of Communication
Thesis type: 
(Extended Essay) M.A.

Politicized social imaginaries: How partisan ‘truth-makers’ derailed Google’s 2018 congressional hearing

Date created: 
2020-08-31
Abstract: 

Our pursuit for a social order is an epistemic and heuristic process and involves making sense of our observations and imaginations. Technologies are a part of our imagined futures but they also have social and political dimensions, and can have negative consequences either from abuse or flaws in design. Using the concept of social imaginaries by Charles Taylor, and sociotechnical imaginaries by Shiela Jasanoff, this study analyses the U.S. House Judiciary Committee hearing of Google’s CEO Sundar Pichai from December 2018. The use of specific social imaginaries around Google’s technologies and Google as a corporation by members of political parties points towards the role of political intentionality and performativity in manufacturing public consent around governance decisions. Such imaginaries are termed as politicized social imaginaries as they are not employed for cognitive interpretation of technological concepts, but used to drive partisan political narratives.

Document type: 
Graduating extended essay / Research project
File(s): 
Supervisor(s): 
Sun Ha Hong
Department: 
Communication, Art & Technology: School of Communication
Thesis type: 
(Extended Essay) M.A.

The meme led me here: The impact of Nollywood memes on global interest in Nigerian films

Author: 
Date created: 
2020-08-31
Abstract: 

Memes are seen as digital elements that incite laughter and the politics and cultural influence embedded is largely ignored. The effects of globalization are not absent in the production of memes and a large number of memes used worldwide are created from Western cultural vehicles. Nigeria’s film industry Nollywood, one of the largest in the world in terms of output, boasts of its dominance in Africa. However, it has not garnered the same audience globally as Hollywood and Bollywood have. The introduction and consequent virality of Nollywood memes in 2016 have put Nollywood in worldview. On YouTube, Nollywood films containing popular memes record millions of views. Using viral Nollywood memes as cases, I studied the impact of Nollywood memes on Nigerian films previously unknown outside Africa and if they have led to global interest in Nollywood. I presented a framework that emerged from this study that not only points to interest in the films but charts the path from memes to interest.

Document type: 
Graduating extended essay / Research project
File(s): 
Supervisor(s): 
Martin Laba
Department: 
Communication, Art & Technology: School of Communication
Thesis type: 
(Extended Essay) M.A.

More room for climate change news reporting in China? A study of climate change coverage in Southern Metropolis Daily

Author: 
Date created: 
2020-08-31
Abstract: 

Research on climate change news coverage in China mainly focuses on Chinese state-run media. However, market-oriented media are also an important information source in Chinese society. This paper examines climate change news reports in the Southern Metropolis Daily, a popular Chinese market-oriented newspaper, exploring the geographic focus, news sources and frames from an eighteen-month sample. Findings suggest an absence of climate science, a failure to focus upon local impacts and solutions and a lack of diverse voices. Instead, market-oriented media tend to follow the lead of state media in their reporting about climate change. Recommendations suggest the need for more diverse and locally relevant climate journalism for Chinese audiences.

Document type: 
Graduating extended essay / Research project
File(s): 
Supervisor(s): 
Shane Gunster
Department: 
Communication, Art & Technology: School of Communication
Thesis type: 
(Extended Essay) M.A.

Fangirl culture in the Chinese rock music scene

Author: 
Date created: 
2020-08-31
Abstract: 

In the summer of 2019, a TV variety show about indie/rock bands became popular in China. Since then, these so-called 'underground' bands have experienced idolization and were moved to a mainstream stage. This also brought a large group of fangirls into the Chinese rock music scene. Such a large-scale invasion of female fans poses a challenge for the rock culture scene which is usually considered to be ‘masculine’. In this project, I explore how the participation of female fans challenge the gender norms constructed in the discourse of Chinese rock and bring changes to the Chinese rock music scene.

Document type: 
Graduating extended essay / Research project
File(s): 
Supervisor(s): 
Milena Droumeva
Department: 
Communication, Art & Technology: School of Communication
Thesis type: 
(Extended Essay) M.A.

Contradictions between public perception of privacy and corporate privacy policy: A case study of TikTok

Author: 
Date created: 
2020-08-31
Abstract: 

While artificial intelligence and big data technology are booming in the platform economy, it is hard to ignore how the business practices that take up these technologies are changing people’s perceptions of privacy and the implications lying beneath these practices. This paper used a systematic review and discourse analysis, respectively, to contrast how individuals perceive privacy with corporate privacy claims. Based on these results, the paper describes and analyzes the contradictions at play between personal and corporate relationships to privacy. Based on a case study of TikTok’s privacy policy, the study finds that people are generally not aware of the consequences of TikTok’s collection and use of personal data, and an unequal relationship has been established between the company and its users through business practice. I argued that protecting personal privacy should be considered as a part of people’s subjectivity which should not be harmed, while the centralization of information and knowledge is putting people’s subjectivity in greater danger than at any previous time.

Document type: 
Graduating extended essay / Research project
File(s): 
Supervisor(s): 
Katherine Reilly
Department: 
Communication, Art & Technology: School of Communication
Thesis type: 
(Extended Essay) M.A.