MPC Research Roundup – Summer 2016

By: Jessica Chambers, MPC 2014

The theme of this month’s newsletter is cultural differences—an area that features the most basic principles in the study of communication. In three recent Major Research Projects (MRPs), MPC students have examined the expression of identity from different cultural groups, and how external groups view cultures different from their own.

“Everyting irie: Examining the occurrence of Jamaican patois in the Greater Toronto Area.” By Danielle Taylor, MPC2015

Danielle’s research examines the occurrence of Jamaican patois in the Greater Toronto Area among people of a Caribbean ethnic or cultural background. She applied Code Switching, Communication Accommodation Theory, and Co-Cultural Communication Theory frameworks to analyze answers received through an online quantitative questionnaire.

Danielle found that many participants adjust their use of Jamaican patois depending on their situation, with participants speaking the most Jamaican patois at home and while socializing outside the home. Additionally, participants use Jamaican patois as a means of assimilation and social conformity. She concludes that while Jamaican patois is often associated with lower levels of income and education, further study may find that the language could be used to facilitate communication within the Caribbean community, as well as across other affiliated groups (such as public service providers, employers and educational institutions).

“Identities Do Not Belong in a Box: Understanding Identity Construction, Negotiation, and Communication for Escorts and Escort Agency Owners.” By Cleo Pyke, MPC2015

Cleo’s research seeks to better understand how escort and escort agency owners construct and communicate their identities in the context of their lives. Cleo applied Erving Goffman’s theories on stigmatization, identity formation, and performance theory to qualitative interviews to better understand the dynamic nature of the participants’ identities.

She found that existing literature on sex work focuses heavily on a “victim-based narrative,” with particular emphasis on the outdoor population of sex workers. Cleo’s qualitative interviews found that the experiences of those in the periphery of the sex industry, such as agency owners, are generally ignored, though many of these workers are willing participants in the industry without coercion.

Cleo’s research suggests that there are voices in this community that are currently not being heard and as a result may be skewing outsiders’ perspectives on the community and its participants..

“Giving Voice to the Street: A Case Study of Toronto’s Street Voices Magazine.” By Miranda Feasey, MPC2015

Miranda’s research investigates Street Voices Magazine as an instrument and communication tool to engage and empower street youth in Toronto. She evaluated the effectiveness of the print medium and what these texts and images suggest about the motivations of the contributors. The transformative potential of the arts, the role of the magazine in fostering in the contributors the identity of an artist, and the lack of other spaces for expression are significant themes that underpin the publication’s appeal and effectiveness.