• Personal soundtracks on public transit : personal listening devices and socio-spatial negotiations of students' bus journeys

      Hemsworth, Katie; Department of Geography (Brock University, 2010-10-26)
      One way of exploring the power of sound in the experience and constitution of space is through the phenomenon of personal listening devices (PLDs) in public environments. In this thesis, I draw from in-depth interviews with eleven Brock University students in S1. Catharines, Ontario, to show how PLDs (such as MP3 players like the iPod) are used to create personalized soundscapes and mediate their public transit journeys. I discuss how my interview participants experience the space-time of public transit, and show how PLDs are used to mediate these experiences in acoustic and non-acoustic ways. PLD use demonstrates that acoustic and environmental experiences are co-constitutive, which highlights a kinaesthetic quality of the transit-space. My empirical findings show that PLDs transform space, particularly by overlapping public and private appropriations of the bus. I use these empirical findings to discuss the PLD phenomenon in the theoretical context of spatiality, and more specifically, acoustic space. J develop the ontological notion of acoustic space, stating that space shares many of the properties of sound, and argue that sound is a rich epistemological tool for understanding and explaining our everyday experiences.
    • Rethinking Fiscal Decentralization Policies in Developing Economies: A Case Study of Ghana

      Boateng, Micheal; Department of Geography (Brock University, 2014-05-22)
      This thesis invites geographers to pay more attention to public policy research by addressing the need to rethink fiscal decentralization policies in Ghana. By applying “Simandan’s wise stance in human geography” and “Grix’s building blocks of social research design”, I developed a conceptual framework that unites two incommensurable ontological and epistemological research positions in geography—the positive and normative positions. I used the framework to investigate two key research questions. First, does fiscal decentralization actually work in Ghana? Through quantitative analysis of empirical revenue and expenditure data (1994-2011) of local governments in Ghana, this study reveals significant issues of inefficiency, inequity, and unaccountability. Local governments generate less revenue, and therefore depend largely on central government transfers for developing their jurisdictions. Worse yet, these transfers are highly unpredictable in terms of amount and timing. Even though a multivariate regression analysis revealed that these transfers are apolitical, the actual disbursement formula tends to focus on equality instead of equity. Additionally, the unclear expenditure assignments in each locality make accountability difficult. In view of these problems, I addressed the question: why is fiscal decentralization held out as a good thing in Ghana? By drawing lessons from Foucault’s and Escobar’s critical discourse analysis, I traced a genealogy of Ghana’s fiscal decentralization. I found that the policy is held out as a good thing in Ghana because of the triangular operation of multiplicities of power, knowledge, and truth regimes at the local, national and international scale. I concluded that although nation-states remains a necessary causal link in fiscal decentralization policy process in Ghana, direct and indirect international involvement have profound effect on these policies. Therefore, rethinking fiscal decentralization involves acknowledging the complex intermingling effects that global, national, and local territories produce.
    • Rural Youths’ Perspectives on the Significance and Impacts of New Roads: The Case of Kaasa - Zogsa Road, Builsa North District, Ghana

      Adeetuk, Lina; Department of Geography
      This thesis investigates the uneven and differential implications of a newly constructed road for residents of Kaasa, a rural community in northern Ghana, with an emphasis on youth, a group whose experiences and practices in relation to road-based mobility have been largely overlooked. It also examines the labour-intensive model used to construct the road, and the relationship between this construction model and the completed road’s uneven implications for community members. Primary data was collected using in-depth qualitative phone interviews with a sample of 15 youth from Kaasa, the road-building project supervisor, and the local assemblyman. Analysis of this material, which employs a motility capital – or motility – framework, yielded three main typologies: (a) six implications of involving locals in the road-building process, (b) six themes that describe youths’ lived experiences of the new road, and (c) five additional themes that summarise youths’ perspectives on the implications of the new road for the community as a whole. Findings reveal that these three sets of implications overlap significantly, and that locals’ ability to experience the benefits of the newly constructed road depend mainly on their motility, including the assets and opportunities they possess as well as the ambition to act on available opportunities. By contributing to knowledge on the multifaceted material and social implications of rural road construction for differently positioned individuals in a small rural community, this thesis also adds to knowledge on rural development research and practice, and the new mobilities scholarship in the social sciences.
    • Scales, networks and uncertainty : an examination of environmental policy-making in Ontario

      Calvert, Kirby.; Department of Geography (Brock University, 2009-02-16)
      Through a case-study analysis of Ontario's ethanol policy, this thesis addresses a number of themes that are consequential to policy and policy-making: spatiality, democracy and uncertainty. First, I address the 'spatial debate' in Geography pertaining to the relevance and affordances of a 'scalar' versus a 'flat' ontoepistemology. I argue that policy is guided by prior arrangements, but is by no means inevitable or predetermined. As such, scale and network are pragmatic geographical concepts that can effectively address the issue of the spatiality of policy and policy-making. Second, I discuss the democratic nature of policy-making in Ontario through an examination of the spaces of engagement that facilitate deliberative democracy. I analyze to what extent these spaces fit into Ontario's environmental policy-making process, and to what extent they were used by various stakeholders. Last, I take seriously the fact that uncertainty and unavoidable injustice are central to policy, and examine the ways in which this uncertainty shaped the specifics of Ontario's ethanol policy. Ultimately, this thesis is an exercise in understanding sub-national environmental policy-making in Canada, with an emphasis on how policy-makers tackle the issues they are faced with in the context of environmental change, political-economic integration, local priorities, individual goals, and irreducible uncertainty.
    • Social Media Representations of Gilgit-Baltistan, Pakistan, and their relation to Metropolitan Domination: The Case of Attabad Lake

      Farrukh, Syed Khuraam; Department of Geography
      This thesis links the colonial and post-colonial representational history of Gilgit-Baltistan, Pakistan with new actors, emerging representational practices, and contemporary cellular, digital, and virtual modes of representation. The power-laden, partial, and exclusionary nature of colonial representations is well established; this thesis investigates the emerging role of new actors, virtual spaces, and altered representational practices in relation to colonial and post-colonial representations. In order to do this, the thesis examines the representational practices of a range of local and down-country Pakistani actors in virtual spaces, as they relate specifically to the Attabad Lake, a natural disaster turned tourist hotspot in Hunza, Gilgit-Baltistan. Situating Attabad’s touristification (itself a product of improved road links, cellular connectivity and the site’s visual attractiveness) against the backdrop of colonial and postcolonial representational practices pertaining to Gilgit-Baltistan, I analyze how virtual spaces act as institutional platforms for the production and reproduction of predominantly orientalist discourse. Using textual and pictorial evidence from four virtual data streams (two Facebook pages and two Instagram accounts), I develop the argument that contemporary online representations of Attabad constitute Gilgit-Baltistan discursively in ways that perpetuate (and sometimes disrupt) longstanding colonial and postcolonial portrayals of the region and its people. A significant effect of these online representations is to legitimate Gilgit-Baltistan’s political, economic and cultural domination and control by lowland Pakistan and the Pakistani state.
    • Student Commuting Patterns and their Effects on Readiness to Learn and Academic Achievement

      Tayler, Paul; Department of Geography
      This study examines how student modal choice to commute to school influences student readiness to learn and academic achievement during the first learning period of the day. The goal of all educational policies, curriculum expectation, literature, and studies is to develop a deeper understanding of student learning, teaching, teaching strategies, and conditions around educating that can better education and teach students. It is vital to understand how students learn, in which conditions promote different levels of learning and to help students succeed in the classroom. Much of the research around student learning and understanding how to better prepare students to learn has focused on social, emotional, physical and intellectual factors at home, in the community, and at school. There has been virtually no formal research investigating the role that transportation and modal choice have on student learning once they arrive at school. This research includes surveying students to determine their individual commuting patterns and interviewing the students’ teachers to outline students’ readiness to learn in the morning and perceived academic achievement. The study areas in this research are elementary schools in St. Catharines and Thorold within the District School Board of Niagara. The findings from this research seem to suggest that students who walk to school are more ready to learn in the morning than any other mode of transportation. Also, students’ perceived academic achievement is less dependent on modal choice as teachers could not explicitly link mode of transportation and academic achievement. This research was exploratory and there are opportunities to further research how student modal choice to get to school influences student readiness to learn and perceived academic achievement.
    • Sustainable Food Systems in northern Ghana: Assessing the influence of International Development

      Kwao, Benjamin; Department of Geography
      The concept of sustainable food systems gained prominence in the food security discourse as evidence from the 2007-2008 and 2010 world food and financial crisis suggested that food systems were under stress. The concept calls for a move from the production centered notion of food security towards a more socially and ecologically sensitive notion which is interested in addressing a complex array of problems that have rendered the food system ineffective. Given the continued prevalence of poverty and food insecurity in northern Ghana, this study assesses the attempts of international development agencies to improve food security in the region using the notion of sustainable food systems as the assessment criteria. Through triangulation, the study uses a combination of qualitative interview data and documentary analysis to answer the research questions. Various discourses of sustainability and concepts are used to deepen the understanding of the concept, leading to the identification of eight practical goals towards achieving sustainable food systems. Using the practical goals of achieving sustainable food systems as the assessment criteria, the study reveals that the food system in northern Ghana is unsustainable due to three categories of impediments (natural, cultural and economic, and institutional). The assessment of the World Food Programme development assistance in northern Ghana shows that international development operations remain ineffective in addressing the impediments to achieving sustainable food systems in the region. WFP’s interventions failed to achieve its potential due to institutional inefficiencies of the agency and its partners. The study contributes to development policy and practice in northern Ghana by establishing the need for development partners to improve institutional efficiency and coordination, empower marginalized groups to access their rights, and prioritize agricultural irrigation in the region.
    • There's No Place Like (Rural) Home: Why People Choose Rural Despite Decline

      Casey, Rebekah; Department of Geography
      Rural communities play a major role in the Canadian landscape and identity. As such it is important to explore the role of rural Canadian communities and why people are so drawn to them. The purpose of this research is to explore why people are so attached to rural communities across Canada despite the presence of economic and population decline. This has been achieved through a thematic analysis of the transcripts of CBC TV series “Still Standing”. An interview with the show producer was also conducted in order to gain background information of the show. The results showed that, above all, there is a strong desire and determination to stay among community members. They will do “whatever it takes” in order to stay in the community and continue calling it home. Results also showed that residents were not concerned with initiating significant growth for the community, they simply wanted to maintain the livability of the community for themselves. Many community members spoke about various initiatives and solutions that they had developed that were quite creative in terms of community resilience. Community members also often used place-based assets and unique local qualities as a catalyst for development in the community. One of the primary challenges that was common for communities regardless of their region or province was the threat and challenge of youth outmigration. Many community members were concerned that youth outmigration would threaten the survival of their communities in the future. Some of the challenges that emerged from this research included the limited number of communities that could be studied, as well as the fact that data was taken from the transcripts of an edited television show.
    • Transforming Downtown St. Catharines into a Creative Cluster

      Wierzba, Tomasz; Department of Geography (Brock University, 2014-10-30)
      The City of St. Catharines, located on the southern shore of Lake Ontario, is Niagara Region's only major urban node. Like many small/medium-sized cities in Canada and abroad, the city experienced a rapid decline of large-scale manufacturing in the 1990s. In a renewed attempt to recover from this economic depression, and spurred by Provincial policy, the City implemented the Downtown Creative Cluster Master Plan (DCCMP) in 2008. In this thesis I conduct a discourse analysis of the DCCMP. My analysis indicates that DCCMP is shaped by neoliberal economic development paradigms. As such it is designed to restructure the downtown into a creative cluster by attracting developers/investors and appealing to the interests, tastes, and desires of middle-class consumers and creatives. I illustrate that this competitive city approach to urban planning has a questionable track record, and has been shown to result in retail and residential gentrification and displacement.
    • Understanding Post-secondary Student Mobility and its Impact on Wellbeing

      Gervais, Jacqueline; Department of Geography
      There are approximately 30,000 Brock University and Niagara College students making their way around Niagara region to attend school, engage in social activities, and contribute to the local economy through their employment and shopping, among many other activities. Unfortunately, however, transportation barriers discourage or prevent many of these students from fully participating in community life. While numerous studies have examined the linkages between transportation and public health, few have been focused specifically on the post-secondary student demographic, including Niagara’s university and college students. Through the application of a mobilities lens, along with The Five Ways to Wellbeing and Determinants of Health frameworks, this study examines the ways in which students’ levels of transportation accessibility impact their levels of mobility and subjective wellbeing. By applying a mixed methods approach, including an online survey and a photovoice project, this study has found that there are geographic-type and person-type barriers that create inequities and, in some cases, exclusions. Geographically, students living in certain Niagara municipalities, or attending certain campuses, have longer and more convoluted trips leading to a lower sense of satisfaction and subjective sense of wellbeing. Person-type barriers are characteristics that are unique to populations of people such as being domestic or international students, gender and having hidden disabilities. Building on Cresswell’s relational moments of mobility and Flamm & Kaufman’s motility, this study exposes the ‘hidden’ power relations that are fundamental to being mobile subjects and, ultimately, students’ subjective wellbeing.