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Power shift: a media analysis of the discourse of electricity deregulation in British Columbia

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(Thesis) M.A.
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Despite a record of low rates and significant public revenue generation on the part of the public utility, BC Hydro, the government of British Columbia in recent years has begun to deregulate the provincial electricity system. Measures undertaken include breaking up the utility and transferring responsibility for new generation to the private sector. I provide a content analysis of the process of electricity deregulation in British Columbia as represented in the Vancouver Sun and the Times Colonist. Narrative themes of the necessity of change, the public/private dichotomy and environmental responsibility are examined. Drawing on the work of Pierre Bourdieu, I contend that a symbolic violence of neoliberalism is evident, one that inculcates the “natural” superiority of private production while occluding alternatives to deregulation. Gaps and inconsistencies in the dominant discourse are considered and suggestions made for strategies to increase the effectiveness of voices resisting deregulation.
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