Communication Studies -- Graduate Theses

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This collection features graduate student theses produced in the Department of Communication Studies.


Recent Submissions

Now showing 1 - 5 of 38
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    A Critical Assessment of Mental Health Discourse among Young Adults on TikTok
    (Mount Saint Vincent University, 2023-08) Horridge, Ricardo
    In the rapidly evolving digital age, TikTok emerges as a significant platform influencing young adults' perceptions and discourses. This research delves deep into the nuances of how mental health is discussed amongst young adults on TikTok. Despite the recognized relationship between social media and mental health, there exists a large research gap regarding the discourse patterns, especially on newer platforms like TikTok. This study begins to fills that void, setting out to explore more than just the existence of a relationship between social media and mental health, but also the intricacies of the discourse – how it is facilitated, stigmatized, and the role of community-building, education and contrastingly negative elements in the conversation. Through detailed thematic and content analysis of 120 TikToks using hashtags #mentalhealth #mentalhealthmatters, #DepressionAnxiety, and #MentalIllness and 20 random sampled comments, this research uncovers the multifaceted nature of TikTok as a medium: from sharing personal experiences and seeking advice to challenging the prevalent stigmatization surrounding mental health. The findings shed light on TikTok's potential for both positive and negative influences on mental health discourse, highlighted by instances of misinformation, emotional expression, and the delicate balance between support and negativity in the conversation. The study's conclusions offer actionable insights for researchers and other academics looking to further analyze discussions on the platform. Additionally, by pinpointing existing limitations and gaps, this research sets the stage for future investigations in this critical area of study.
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    The Effectiveness of Situational Crisis Communication Theory in Assessing Personal Political Apologies: A Case Study Approach
    (Mount Saint Vincent University, 2023-04) Basha, Lena Mallory
    Crafting an effective apology when responding to a crisis is not a one size fits all process. Thus, understanding the type of apology and the context that comes with it is critical to building and implementing crisis response strategies. The various considerations required in this process are demonstrated in Timothy Coombs’ Situational Crisis Communications Theory (SCCT) (Coombs, 2007). This study examines the usefulness of SCCT as a framework for examining personal political apologies; a type of apology with little representation in the sphere of crisis communications research. Through a case study approach, 42 news articles covering an apology from a politician addressing impaired driving charges, were coded and analyzed through the guidelines proposed by the SCCT framework. Findings demonstrated that there is some usefulness in SCCT on personal political apologies. However, there were gaps apparent in the theory, and the broader literature available, that warrant further exploration to better accommodate personal political apologies in the realm of crisis communications.
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    Not first responders, but often first to respond: Canadian journalists’ use of trauma-informed approaches in reporting
    (Mount Saint Vincent University, 2022) Dubinski, Kate
    As part of their work, journalists regularly encounter people who have experienced trauma, whether long-term and systemic or immediate, such as following the death of a loved one. Their jobs take them into the intimate lives and emotions of these people, which they then have to communicate with their audiences, and their approaches could have a harmful, neutral, or positive impact. The central purpose of this study is to investigate if journalists have an understanding of trauma-informed communication practice and how they use them when performing their daily job tasks. The study involved qualitative interviews with six working journalists in Ontario, Canada. Using grounded theory approach, the study found the journalists have a deep desire to be sensitive and empathetic to the people they encounter on the job, and that they regularly put the demands of their superiors and the (sometimes unwritten) rules of their profession second to the needs of the people they are interviewing and reporting on. Based on the responses of the participants and on an understanding of trauma-informed approaches, a series of guiding principles were formulated for newsrooms and for journalists, mindful of daily deadline pressures, the demands placed on journalists, and the need for trauma-informed approaches to tell more meaningful stories while not further harming those individuals or communities which are being reported upon.
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    “I want to look like her”: A cross-cultural analysis of White and Eastern Asian-Canadian women’s perceptions of beauty through Instagram
    (Mount Saint Vincent University, 2022) Gwilliam, Maya
    Researchers and the broader public alike have long been intrigued about the connection between body image concerns among young women and the increasing proliferation of certain social media platforms. Instagram, in particular, has become a common target of attention for those expecting to see a connection between participation on the platform and negative self-esteem (Fardouly et al., 2017). There is often a racial component to these assumptions, given that Eastern Asian women often face negative body self-esteem issues when confronted with mainstream beauty standards (Cheng, 2014; Smart et al., 2011). In an effort to ascertain the validity of these assumptions, this research has committed to a thorough investigation of self-perceptions among young women as it relates to their Instagram usage by exploring the research question: Is there a relationship between White and Eastern Asian-Canadian women’s self-esteem, ethnic and racial identity, and their Instagram use? This study made use of quantitative data collected from participants from 16 universities across Canada; 82 participants were surveyed to gauge their browsing habits on Instagram, as well as their self-image and internalization of Western beauty standards. An analysis of this data yielded a result which contradicted the popular assumption—among the White and Eastern Asian-Canadian women (ages 19-30) surveyed, there is no evidence of a relationship between Instagram usage and global self-esteem, body self-esteem, or racial identity. While this does not preclude the possibility that social media may be harmful to young women in other ways, there is little evidence from the present study to suggest that Instagram is responsible for deteriorating its users’ self-esteem.
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    “I know something you don’t know”: Analysis of perceptions of Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) Reporting in the Canadian Oil and Gas Industry through signaling, dramaturgy, and reception theories
    (Mount Saint Vincent University, 2021-12-06) Rino, Antonio
    Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) Reporting in the Canadian Oil and Gas Industry is a relatively new way of reporting Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR), with a key focus on appealing to investors. While there is a great deal of scholarly research on CSR and environmental and issues, there is very little qualitative data on public and industry perceptions of ESG reporting, particularly in the Canadian Oil and Gas Industry. The purpose of this research is to address this lack of qualitative data through interviews with industry personnel and non-industry publics about their perceptions of ESG reporting and to understand how these actors perceive ESG communications. Interviews took place in early 2021, during COVID-19 lockdowns and depressed market conditions for Canada’s Oil and Gas Industry. Data was collected using grounded theory and is analyzed using my “I know something you don’t know” (IKSYDK) framework that is based on signaling theory (Spence, 2002), dramaturgical theory (Goffman, 1956), and reception theory (Hall, 1973). Although these interviews represent a snapshot in time, the data revealed conflicting views on the Oil and Gas Industry’s perception of public opinion, insights on how social media can be used to communicate ESG effectively, and unilateral agreement that ESG reporting is incomplete for picking and choosing only the good data and not sharing the bad. Interviewees also concurred that – due to the undeniable threat of climate change caused by fossil fuels – the Oil and Gas Industry is in sunset, and that ESG reporting can provide valued accountability if created more inclusively for investor and non-investor audiences.