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

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Alone together: Exploring community on an incel forum

Author: 
Date created: 
2020-12-16
Abstract: 

Incels, or involuntary celibates, are men who are angry and frustrated at their inability to find sexual or intimate partners. This anger has repeatedly resulted in violence against women. Because incels are a relatively new phenomenon, there are many gaps in our knowledge, including how, and to what extent, incel forums function as online communities. The current study begins to fill this lacuna by qualitatively analyzing the incels.co forum to understand how community is created through online discourse. Both inductive and deductive thematic analyses were conducted on 17 threads (3400 posts). The results confirm that the incels.co forum functions as a community. Four themes in relation to community were found: The incel brotherhood; We can disagree, but you’re wrong; We are all coping here; and Will the real incel come forward. The four themes elucidate that incels most often exchange informational and emotional support.

Document type: 
Thesis
File(s): 
Supervisor(s): 
Garth Davies
Department: 
Arts & Social Sciences: School of Criminology
Thesis type: 
(Thesis) M.A.

Information trolls vs. democracy: An examination of fake news content delivered during the 2019 Canadian federal election and the generation of information warfare

Author: 
Date created: 
2020-12-04
Abstract: 

This research explores the role of fake news delivered during the 2019 Canadian Federal election. The aim of this study is to understand what impact exposure to fake news may have had on voter’s political ideologies and to examine whether criminal interference was involved. This study employs a survey which was delivered through social media platforms to Canadian voters in hopes to understand whether they were exposed to fake news, if it affected their ultimate voting decision, if they were the recipient of an election-related robocall, and what the nature of the robocall was. The results of four binary logistic regressions using survey data (N = 190) are used to explain how fake news can impact voter’s decisions. Further, this study also employs a qualitative content analysis of known fake news headlines (N = 596) during the time of the election to determine the aim, scope, target, and nature of each news piece. A final qualitative content analysis is conducted to determine the nature of robocalls through survey respondents who were the recipient of an election-related robocall (N = 46). The findings of these studies allow for an in-depth examination into whether Canadian voters were influenced by fake news, if the influence that had an impact on their voting decision, and if criminal interference was involved during the time of the election.

Document type: 
Thesis
File(s): 
Supervisor(s): 
Richard Frank
Department: 
Arts & Social Sciences: School of Criminology
Thesis type: 
(Thesis) M.A.

Speaking in stolen voices: Impersonated propaganda and use of Queer and Muslim identities by the Internet Research Agency

Author: 
Date created: 
2020-12-09
Abstract: 

As part of Russia’s ongoing foreign interference campaign, The Internet Research Agency (IRA) appropriated marginalised identities and created impersonated propaganda, including the Facebook groups LGBT United and United Muslims. Guided by critical theory and informed by feminist, queer, and postcolonial perspectives, this study examined 500 posts from LGBT United and 500 posts from United Muslims, to explore the groups’ content, purpose, and use of marginalised identities. Qualitative content analysis revealed several themes, including (Attempted) Identity Theft (efforts to appear legitimate), A Call to Inaction (discouragement of political engagement), “Us” Against the World (encouraging isolation and anger), and That’s the Thing I’m Sensitive About! (potentially generating antagonism towards the marginalised community). Findings discuss the possibility that these posts are multitarget (intended to influence not only the impersonated community, but groups hostile to it), explore potential danger to marginalised groups, recommend consideration of proactive strategies, and encourage community partnership.

Document type: 
Thesis
File(s): 
Supervisor(s): 
Richard Frank
Department: 
Arts & Social Sciences: School of Criminology
Thesis type: 
(Thesis) M.A.

The “I” in ICATs: A closer examination of interagency case assessment teams in British Columbia

Author: 
Date created: 
2020-12-07
Abstract: 

Integrated case assessment teams (ICATs) are a consortium of local agencies that respond to highest risk domestic violence cases using a collaborative approach. The underlying principle of ICATs is the belief that with coordinated intervention, injury or death resulting from domestic violence is predictable and preventable. This exploratory study examines the knowledge and experience of ICATs in British Columbia to better understand the role, functioning, and impact of ICATs in combating domestic violence. The results provide insight as to (i) the who and how of ICATs; (ii) the benefits and challenges to interagency collaboration; and (iii) potential qualitative indicators of success to measure the effectiveness of ICATs. The turnover and burnout of ICAT membership are briefly examined, followed by a discussion comprised of the recommendations from ICAT members on how the overall functioning of ICATs could be improved. Recommendations included training and peer mentoring; increased hours; coordinator positions; and the centralization of data and community education and outreach. Implications of the findings and future directions are also discussed.

Document type: 
Thesis
File(s): 
Supervisor(s): 
Bryan Kinney
Sheri Fabian
Department: 
Arts & Social Sciences: School of Criminology
Thesis type: 
(Thesis) M.A.

“Obscenity has fallen to the wayside”: The decline of the obscenity provisions amongst law enforcement professionals in Canada

Author: 
Date created: 
2020-10-23
Abstract: 

Since the landmark Butler case in 1992, obscenity, or more specifically adult pornography, has “fallen to the wayside,” in terms of legal consideration. Recent legal consideration has focused primarily on child pornography, and internet-based pornography, in a post-Butler era. Consequentially, the criminal justice system has experienced a shift in priorities; since Butler, only child-related obscene materials are subjected to criminal justice system scrutiny. This study explores the experiences of criminal justice system personnel to learn about shifts in law enforcement priorities since the enactment of the child pornography provision in 1993 and the role of the internet in this shift in priorities. I conducted 16 qualitative semi-structured interviews with criminal justice system personnel, guided by a feminist lens. Participants included current and retired members of the police (municipal and RCMP), Crown counsel, and defence lawyers; five participants had been involved in major court decisions of obscenity and child pornography (Little Sisters, 2000; R. v. Butler, 1992; R. v. Klassen, 2012; R. v. Neil, 2015; R. v. Sharpe, 2001). Analysis revealed a changing definition of obscenity, that material which historically would not have been tolerated for consumption, was now tolerated by the general community. More importantly, the perception emerged that obscenity was readily accessible via the internet, and no longer viewed as a priority for the criminal justice system. Participants identified the internet as a game changer; the availability and accessibility of child pornography online flooded the criminal justice system with depictions of the sexual abuse of real children that necessitated a priority response. As such, the focus and emphasis from the criminal justice system shifted away from violence against women and children, supported in Butler (1992), to child pornography, particularly that which features the sexual abuse of children. This shift in priorities resulted in a decline in law enforcement focus on obscene material, ultimately letting obscenity fall to the wayside. This research concludes with policy recommendations, including educating parents and children early about the issues with obscenity.

Document type: 
Thesis
File(s): 
Supervisor(s): 
David MacAlister
Sheri Fabian
Department: 
Arts & Social Sciences: School of Criminology
Thesis type: 
(Thesis) Ph.D.

Foreign interference in U.S. politics: An examination of “fake news” content on social media

Author: 
Date created: 
2020-07-28
Abstract: 

Fake news has become a powerful and disruptive force in the social media environment, with serious consequences for democracy. As a result, news organizations and tech companies have taken measures to reduce or eliminate the propagation and dissemination of fake news. The current study analyzes data gathered from Facebook and Twitter from two major events that occurred in U.S. politics: the 2016 U.S. presidential election and the 2019/2020 impeachment inquiry and trial of Donald Trump. Qualitative content analysis revealed that the majority of posts and tweets examined in this study could be classified as fake news, and that they were decidedly pro-Trump in angle. Through the lens of agenda setting theory, it was observed that the major issues covered in both time periods under study favoured Trump and his policies, while they denigrated the Democratic party and its members. Multiple themes emerged that shed new light on the tactics employed by hostile foreign actors to micro-target and influence social media users.

Document type: 
Thesis
File(s): 
Supervisor(s): 
Richard Frank
Department: 
Arts & Social Sciences: School of Criminology
Thesis type: 
(Thesis) M.A.

Shots fired: Unraveling the 2015 Surrey gang conflict using social network analysis

Author: 
Date created: 
2021-01-22
Abstract: 

The ever-changing gang landscape in British Columbia (BC) has seen periods of escalated retaliatory gang violence, most recently in 2015, in Surrey, BC, Canada. The ‘face’ of the gang problem in Surrey is that of South Asian males in their early twenties. Homicide among this population is an unrecognized public health crisis, as over the last decade, there have been over 150 deaths and counting of South Asian males related to gang violence in the Lower Mainland. A cross-disciplinary tool that police can use to advance their understanding of gangs, conflicts and violent victimization is social network analysis (SNA). The ego-networks of the 23 confirmed gang-related gun homicide or attempted homicide victims in Surrey, in 2015, are constructed using police data from 2011 to 2015. The present study a) assesses the overall structure to understand the Surrey gang conflict, b) conducts centrality analyses to identify those individuals (victims and non-victims) at the highest risk of gunshot victimization and c) explores the potential consequences of being central in the victim network. Results indicate that 299 of the 355 individuals in the overall network are connected to each other, including 18 of the 23 victims, who are more likely to be brokers. A high-risk group is identified, with two or more direct connections to victims that are at the highest risk of victimization. Finally, results show that 2016 and 2017 victims are among the most central in the network. Policy and practical implications are discussed with reference to these findings.

Document type: 
Thesis
File(s): 
Supervisor(s): 
Martin Bouchard
Department: 
Arts & Social Sciences: School of Criminology
Thesis type: 
(Thesis) M.A.

Media representation of migrant crime: Hypotheticals, prominence, and migration pros and cons in select western newspaper coverage

Author: 
Date created: 
2020-10-22
Abstract: 

This content analysis examines newspaper representation of migrant criminality in Canada, the UK, and the US. Existing studies demonstrate a dynamic relationship between media coverage, perceptions of migration, and politics/lawmaking, as well as the media’s role in maintaining the gap between empirical knowledge and common understanding of migrant crime. Logistic and OLS regression are employed to evaluate (1) the hypothetical discussion of migrant crime (speculative/risk-oriented content as opposed to the discussion of a real crime event), and (2) article prominence in the form of word count. Qualitative thematic analyses are used to explore the nature of (3) pro-migrant content, such as economic benefits, and (4) anti-migrant content, such as threats to values and resources. Results are considered in the contexts of rising populism, media influence and accountability, promotion of stereotypes and public concern, and the perceived risks of migration and subsequent effects on human and civil rights.

Document type: 
Thesis
File(s): 
Supervisor(s): 
Jennifer Wong
Department: 
Arts & Social Sciences: School of Criminology
Thesis type: 
(Thesis) M.A.

Mandatory minimum sentences of imprisonment as ‘cruel and unusual punishment’: Exploring constitutional infirmity post-Nur (2015)

Author: 
Date created: 
2020-07-30
Abstract: 

This research examines judicial intervention striking down mandatory minimum sentencing laws in Canada. Between 2006 and 2015, former Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s Conservative government introduced (and increased) an unprecedented number of mandatory minimums in the Criminal Code and Controlled Drugs and Substances Act. Approximately 100 offences now carry a minimum period of imprisonment. In 2015 and 2016, the Supreme Court of Canada struck down provisions imposing minimum periods of imprisonment in R v Nur and R v Lloyd, for violating the prohibition against cruel and unusual punishment enshrined in s. 12 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. Lower courts across Canada have continued striking down other mandatory minimum provisions (primarily those pertaining to drug, sex, and weapons offences). 134 cases challenging the constitutional validity of mandatory minimums are reviewed. This research concludes the current Liberal government has not fulfilled its commitment to review the previously imposed mandatory minimum penalties, despite more effective and less costly sentencing approaches.

Document type: 
Thesis
File(s): 
Supervisor(s): 
David MacAlister
Department: 
Arts & Social Sciences: School of Criminology
Thesis type: 
(Thesis) M.A.

The effect of seasonal and geographic variation on early carcass colonization by forensically important blow flies (Calliphoridae) in British Columbia.

Author: 
Date created: 
2020-08-11
Abstract: 

Using a terrestrial-based field study, the abundance and diversity of necrophagous insects were monitored over a nine-month period within distinct environments in the Metro Vancouver region of BC, Canada. Acting as body proxies, small baited bottle traps (n=9) were deployed weekly for 12-hour intervals in three different environments, accumulating a total of 1334 specimens. Collected specimens were analyzed microscopically to determine species ID, sex, and gravidity. Ambient temperature and precipitation data for each site was obtained from the nearest government weather station. Following the same procedures, a second component of the study analyzed the influence of light intensity on carcass colonization by placing bottle traps (n=9) in shaded areas at each site. Bivariate analyses revealed significant relationships between species, geographic location, and month of collection, suggesting that necrophagous species composition is influenced by habitat type and seasonal shifts in temperature. Sex ratios, reproductive ranges, and light preferences of Calliphoridae were examined.

Document type: 
Thesis
File(s): 
Supervisor(s): 
Gail Anderson
Department: 
Arts & Social Sciences: School of Criminology
Thesis type: 
(Thesis) M.A.