Communication Studies Dissertations and Theses

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    Social change in Ho Chi Minh City : Vietnam through the eyes of its young citizens. A participatory visual ethnography methodology approach to photography, youth and social change in urban space
    (2020) Le, Annhein K.; Unitec Institute of Technology
    RESEARCH QUESTIONS: 1. How participatory photography can be used as a critical tool to acknowledge development issues in HCMC? 2. How participatory photography can be deployed as a tool to empower young residents in HCMC to communicate social change? ABTRACT: Known as the centre of the Vietnamese economic restructuring, land speculation and education, Ho Chi Minh City (HCMC) has been experiencing enormous developmental issues such as urban planning, housing and homelessness, waste water treatment, widening gap between the rich and the poor, and air pollution. The future of the city’s very young population (6 million out of an estimated 10 million) will be directly affected by these changes. In light of this, it is important to engage and provide them with the means to not only express their views on these changes but to critically engage with them through tools that are relevant to their daily life. This Master of International Communication research aims at exploring how participatory visual methods, within a communication for development and social change framework, can be used by the city’s young inhabitants to document change in their natural habitat. For a period of over five months, the research engaged with a small group of young people in HCMC, through a number of photography workshops, group and individual shootings that resulted in a series of photos hosted in a website along with the participants accompanying narratives. Participatory visual methods have been used extensively in social research to generate new forms of knowledge which cannot be developed any other way. In this project, the researcher and the participants collectively explored some of the emerging urban development themes identified in the photographs taken; how participatory photography is used as a critical tool to acknowledge development issues in the city; how participatory photography is deployed as a tool to empower young residents in HCMC to communicate social change and what some of the opportunities and challenges in working with young people to produce participatory visual outputs within a conceptual social change framework are. This research is presented in two parts. One part is a website where the participants and the researcher share some of the emerging themes of social change in the city through a series of photographs taken by the participants, their profiles and lessons learnt for similar projects to refer to. The other part is the exegesis that presents the research methods, findings, reflections of the researcher as well as recommendations for future research.
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    Evaluating the level of community participation in increasing children’s attendance in quality primary education in Lao PDR : a case study of BEQUAL NGO Consortium project in Xaybouathong district, Khammouane Province
    (2019) Mahaphom, Somphien; Unitec Institute of Technology
    RESEARCH QUESTION: How effective is the community participation in the BNC project in increasing children’s attendance in quality basic education? SUB-QUESTIONS: 1. How does the BNC project engage in the community to promote an increase in the participation of children in primary education? 2. What challenges does the project face in engaging with the target community? 3. What challenges does the target community face in supporting children’s access to quality primary education? 4. How is the Khammouane provincial media involved in the project implementation? 5. How are the needs of disadvantaged children, especially girls and those with disabilities, addressed? ABSTRACT: Recognition of the importance of education to national development has led to the implementation of many educational development programmes, which aim at improving access to education for all children in Lao PDR. One programme that focuses on primary education initiatives is Basic Education Quality and Access in Lao PDR [BEQUAL]. This research evaluated the level of community participation in the BEQUAL NGO Consortium [BNC] project in increasing children’s attendance in quality primary education. Using a qualitative research approach (including non-participant observation, communicative ecology mapping, in-depth semi-structured interviews, focus groups and documentation), it analysed how effective the community participation is, in the implementation of the BNC project. The interviews and focus groups involved 13 participants from three different groups engaged with by the BNC: local primary school teachers, parents of school children and BNC staff. Findings revealed that all community members highly appreciated the project intervention, although the level of their participation was low. Positive change in children’s learning, parents’ awareness about the importance of education to their child’s life and understanding of how parenting skills affects their child’s education were claimed to be key benefits experienced by members of the community. The findings also revealed that in general community members have passive attitudes towards the development project, in the sense that they wait for assistance from donors. To address this issue, it is recommended that BNC could increase the level of participation by empowering all primary stakeholders (community leaders, teachers, village volunteers and parents) to participate in the process of problem identification, problem solving, and decision making. It is also recommended that BNC could consider teachers, parents and village volunteers as agents of change for their own community as evidence indicates that these three groups can play a significant role in addressing the level of school attendance in their community.
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    Facebook, fickleness, and the new populism in the Philippines : assessing Facebook’s role in Rodrigo Duterte’s 2016 presidential campaign and rise to power
    (2018) Ellmers, Steve; Unitec Institute of Technology
    SUB-QUESTIONS 1/ How was Duterte’s image as a candidate constructed through his official Rody Duterte Facebook profile and DU30 for 2016, a representative Facebook account of the hundreds managed by his campaign team? 2/ How did influential figures within the Philippine political and media elite abet Duterte’s rise? Although the Philippines’ populist strongman Rodrigo Duterte is often called the Drumpf of the East his unexpected victory in the 2016 Philippine presidential election has created such a bloody legacy that Duterte’s impact may even outlast his namesake’s. Duterte’s rise to power occurred in the country with the world’s heaviest Facebook users and relied on this social media platform to a far greater extent than any candidate had during the 2010 Philippine presidential contest. This development determined that Facebook would be the main subject of this analysis. This research analyses what happened during the 2016 Philippine presidential election campaign by examining the role Facebook played in Duterte’s success from when his candidacy was formally approved on December 17, 2015, through to the presidential election on May 9, 2016. It subjects two key Facebook accounts, Duterte’s official page and a representative example of one of the hundreds created to support him, to content and discursive analysis. It places Team Duterte’s use of Facebook within the overall context of the campaign and shows how Duterte’s complex and contradictory identity as a candidate was constructed for two very different Facebook audiences. This research also considers how Duterte’s rise was linked to the assistance he received – either intentionally or otherwise – from other members of the Philippine political and media elite. In contrast to his official position as a vulgar yet ultimately non-threatening change agent Duterte’s diehard Facebook activists and their networks of fake Facebook accounts revelled in distributing blatant utopian messaging. This contributed to Duterte’s dominance of the political discourse of the campaign and exploited the Philippines’ messiah complex. It helped Duterte present himself as a Christ-like saviour; the country’s last hope, the Philippines’ last card. As a result, this research also examines the parasocial relationship between Duterte and his supporters. This is because their belief that they knew who Duterte was and that he could be trusted with imposing a new dictatorship has allowed Duterte to unleash what he considers to be the final solution to all the Philippines’ problems – the violence which he previously used as a local warlord to pacify the most chaotic and ungovernable city in Asia.
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    Exploring the role of Buddhist monks/nuns’ engagement in community development as catalysts for social change and sustainable development in Lao People’s Democratic Republic : a case study of Buddhism for Development Project at Ban Bungsanthueng, Nongbok District, Khammouane Province
    (2018) Synuanchanh, Toung Eh; Unitec Institute of Technology
    RESEARCH QUESTIONS: The following central research question forms the focus of this research: • What role can the BDP’s trained Buddhist monks/nuns play in community development as catalysts for social change and sustainable development in Laos? The followings are a set of sub-questions to answer the central main question above: 1. What aspects of participatory communication are manifesting in the community development initiatives implemented by the trained monk in Ban Bungsanthueng? 2. What sustainability and self-reliance goals has the community achieved as a result of the Buddhist development initiatives? 3. What challenges do the Buddhist monks/nuns experience in their community development practice in Ban Bungsanthueng? 4. How can the Integrated Model of Communication for Social Change [the Catalyst Model] be integrated with the Buddhist Approaches to Development? The significance of local and traditional beliefs and culture has been seen as an obstacle to modernity. In Laos, religious communities have often been excluded from the development process and identified as hindrances to modernisation. The significances of Buddhist values and the role of Sangha (Buddhist monastic order) are not addressed in the development process, although Buddhism is the main religion of Laos. Buddhism is widely understood as a separate body from social affairs. Society tends to view Sangha members who are involved in secular affairs as violating monastic disciplines (vinaya) and precepts (sila). Within this context, the Lao Buddhist Fellowship Organisation has established the Buddhism for Development Project [BDP] to train the Sangha, as well as Buddhist followers, to play a greater role in social development and changes in the broader social perception of the roles of Sangha in the development process, with an emphasis on spiritual development and transformation. This study, using a qualitative methodology, employed Buddhist development approaches [BA] as applied by the Buddhism for Development Project [BDP] (2012) and the Integrated Model of Communication for Social Change developed by Figueroa, Kincaid, Rani, and Lewis (2002) as a conceptual framework. It utilised participant observation, semistructured interviews and focus groups to explore the roles of Buddhist monks/nuns as catalysts for social change and sustainable development in the Lao People’s Democratic Republic. The research takes as a case study the Buddhism for Development Project [BDP] implemented at Ban Bungsanthueng (Nongbok District, Khammouane Province) by its Buddhist Volunteer Spirit for Community network [BVSC network]. The fieldwork took place at the BDP’s training centre in Vientiane and the Buddhist initiatives at Ban Bungsanthueng. The research indicates that BA aims at transforming villagers’ spirituality in order to liberate them from suffering caused by various social issues. The research demonstrates how the BDP and its network apply participatory approaches through interpersonal communication, such as sermon delivery, Dhamma talk, and daily interaction with villagers and project members. The trained monk through his leadership role and earned social trust enables the community to reach its sustainability and self-reliance goals. However, there are some challenges that the trained monk and project members face, such as power relationships iii with government and community officials. These challenges affect the free flow of information and group decision making. The emerging integrated framework has created new contextualised indicators combining the values of BA and IMCFSC. The monk here is seen as a Buddhist catalyst by acting as an internal stimulus to community development through spiritual transformation and social trust. BDP and its BVSC network approaches are considered participatory and act as a catalyst for social change. Buddhist ethics, virtues and moral teaching, especially the concept of ‘Paticcasamuppada’ (independence or inter-being), provide the stimulus for community dialogue and actions for change and spiritual transformation by having the Sangha as facilitators and transformers. The finding has demonstrated that BDP acts as the catalyst for change through educating the Buddhist community, changing the social perception of the social roles of the Sangha, facilitating a network of Buddhist volunteers, and mobilising funds to support grass-roots initiatives. The authoritative position, social respect, trust and faith in the Sangha, as well as the collective consciousness (ownership) of the Wat facilitate community responsibility, solidarity and harmony‒significant social capital‒that are the cohesive force for community participation in dialogue and concerted action. The Sangha thus acts as the stimulus for community participation and actions. The combination of the two frameworks has contributed to a more holistic and participatory communication for social change and development approach that is more relevant to community development in Laos.
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    Colombian refugees in New Zealand and their resettlement stories
    (2018) López Severiche, Alfredo José; Unitec Institute of Technology
    RESEARCH QUESTIONS: 1. How were Colombian refugees prepared for resettlement in New Zealand? 2. What are the challenges faced by Colombian refugees when resettling in New Zealand? 3. What role does reconciliation play in the process of integration in New Zealand? 4. How do Colombian refugees resign or reconcile themselves to integrate into New Zealand in order to rebuild their lives and survive ? This thesis explores the stories of resettlement and integration of Colombian refugees in New Zealand. Colombian refugees began their resettlement in New Zealand in 2007 referred by the UNHCR and accepted by the government of New Zealand. The lack of academic research focused solely on Colombian refugees in New Zealand was the main motivation to carry out this study. This research aims to explore the challenges that affect the successful integration of Colombian refugees in New Zealand. It was driven by a pragmatic question of what can be done to improve their integration in New Zealand. The qualitative methodological approach of this study was an ethnographic collection of oral stories. Ethnography and oral history research methodology were the most effective way of documenting the experiences of Colombian refugees in New Zealand because it permitted me to collect and present the stories of the participants in a chronological order. Additional data collection methods included focus group and participants' diaries. This study collected the resettlement stories of 13 former Colombian refugees resettled in New Zealand. The findings of this research indicated that former Colombian refugees are integrated into New Zealand. However, some of them are better integrated and adapted than others, but all of them feel love and much appreciation for New Zealand. In fact, Colombian refugees consider New Zealand as their second home and also identify themselves as Colombians, Ecuadorians and Kiwis. Nevertheless, they think that New Zealand has several shortcomings in its refugee resettlement programme. The findings of this study also show that Colombian refugees in New Zealand face many challenges that put in risk their successful integration into the country. This thesis contributes new knowledge about the resettlement of Colombian refugees in New Zealand and suggests ways to improve the resettlement of new refugees in the country. It opens the door for conducting new studies on refugees and immigrants in New Zealand and worldwide.