1,704 results for Doctoral, Share

  • Spatial and temporal genetic structure of the New Zealand scallop Pecten novaezelandiae: A multidisciplinary perspective

    Nunes Soares Silva, Catarina (2015)

    Doctoral thesis
    Victoria University of Wellington

    Knowledge about the population genetic structure of species and the factors shaping such patterns is crucial for effective management and conservation. The complexity of New Zealand’s marine environment presents a challenge for management and the classification of its marine biogeographic areas. As such, it is an interesting system to investigate marine connectivity dynamics and the evolutionary processes shaping the population structure of marine species. An accurate description of spatial and temporal patterns of dispersal and population structure requires the use of tools capable of incorporating the variability of the mechanisms involved. However, these techniques are yet to be broadly applied to New Zealand marine organisms. This study used genetic markers to assess the genetic variation of the endemic New Zealand scallop, Pecten novaezelandiae, at different spatial and temporal scales. A multidisciplinary approach was used integrating genetic with environmental data (seascape genetics) and hydrodynamic modelling tools. P. novaezelandiae supports important commercial, recreational and customary fisheries but there is no previous information about its genetic structure. Therefore, twelve microsatellite markers were developed for this study (Chapter 2). Samples (n=952) were collected from 15 locations to determine the genetic structure across the distribution range of P. novaezelandiae. The low genetic structure detected in this study is expected given the recent evolutionary history, the large reproductive potential and the pelagic larval duration of the species (approximately 3 weeks). A significant isolation by distance signal and a degree of differentiation from north to south was apparent, but this structure conflicted with some evidence of panmixia. A latitudinal genetic diversity gradient was observed that might reflect the colonisation and extinction events and insufficient time to reach migration-drift equilibrium during a recent range expansion (Chapter 3). A seascape genetic approach was used to test for associations between patterns of genetic variation in P. novaezelandiae and environmental variables (three geospatial and six environmental variables). Although the geographic distance between populations was an important variable explaining the genetic variation among populations, it appears that levels of genetic differentiation are not a simple function of distance. Evidence suggests that some environmental factors such as freshwater discharge and suspended particulate matter can be contributing to the patterns of genetic differentiation of P. novaezelandiae in New Zealand (Chapter 4). Dispersal of P. novaezelandiae was investigated at a small spatial and temporal scale in the Coromandel fishery using genetic markers integrated with hydrodynamic modelling. For the spatial analysis, samples (n=402) were collected in 2012 from 5 locations and for the temporal analysis samples (n=383) were collected in 2012 and 2014 from 3 locations. Results showed small but significant spatial and temporal genetic differentiation, suggesting that the Coromandel fishery does not form a single panmictic unit with free gene flow and supporting a model of source-sink population dynamics (Chapter 5). The importance of using multidisciplinary approaches at different spatial and temporal scales is widely recognized as a means to better understand the complex processes affecting marine connectivity. The outcomes of this study highlight the importance of incorporating these different approaches, provide vital information to assist in effective management and conservation of P. novaezelandiae and contribute to our understanding of evolutionary processes shaping population structure of marine species.

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  • Improving Clustering Methods By Exploiting Richness Of Text Data

    Wahid, Abdul (2016)

    Doctoral thesis
    Victoria University of Wellington

    Clustering is an unsupervised machine learning technique, which involves discovering different clusters (groups) of similar objects in unlabeled data and is generally considered to be a NP hard problem. Clustering methods are widely used in a verity of disciplines for analyzing different types of data, and a small improvement in clustering method can cause a ripple effect in advancing research of multiple fields. Clustering any type of data is challenging and there are many open research questions. The clustering problem is exacerbated in the case of text data because of the additional challenges such as issues in capturing semantics of a document, handling rich features of text data and dealing with the well known problem of the curse of dimensionality. In this thesis, we investigate the limitations of existing text clustering methods and address these limitations by providing five new text clustering methods--Query Sense Clustering (QSC), Dirichlet Weighted K-means (DWKM), Multi-View Multi-Objective Evolutionary Algorithm (MMOEA), Multi-objective Document Clustering (MDC) and Multi-Objective Multi-View Ensemble Clustering (MOMVEC). These five new clustering methods showed that the use of rich features in text clustering methods could outperform the existing state-of-the-art text clustering methods. The first new text clustering method QSC exploits user queries (one of the rich features in text data) to generate better quality clusters and cluster labels. The second text clustering method DWKM uses probability based weighting scheme to formulate a semantically weighted distance measure to improve the clustering results. The third text clustering method MMOEA is based on a multi-objective evolutionary algorithm. MMOEA exploits rich features to generate a diverse set of candidate clustering solutions, and forms a better clustering solution using a cluster-oriented approach. The fourth and the fifth text clustering method MDC and MOMVEC address the limitations of MMOEA. MDC and MOMVEC differ in terms of the implementation of their multi-objective evolutionary approaches. All five methods are compared with existing state-of-the-art methods. The results of the comparisons show that the newly developed text clustering methods out-perform existing methods by achieving up to 16\% improvement for some comparisons. In general, almost all newly developed clustering algorithms showed statistically significant improvements over other existing methods. The key ideas of the thesis highlight that exploiting user queries improves Search Result Clustering(SRC); utilizing rich features in weighting schemes and distance measures improves soft subspace clustering; utilizing multiple views and a multi-objective cluster oriented method improves clustering ensemble methods; and better evolutionary operators and objective functions improve multi-objective evolutionary clustering ensemble methods. The new text clustering methods introduced in this thesis can be widely applied in various domains that involve analysis of text data. The contributions of this thesis which include five new text clustering methods, will not only help researchers in the data mining field but also to help a wide range of researchers in other fields.

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  • Intertextuality in Kenyan Policy Discourse on the Rights of Women

    Aberi, George (2016)

    Doctoral thesis
    Victoria University of Wellington

    The investigative aim of this thesis is to explore the recontextualization of the normative discourse of gender equality in Kenya’s policy discourse of women’s rights. Its purpose is threefold: Firstly, it attempts to examine the different ways in which policy makers use language in the course of interpreting and implementing gender equality policies. This includes a focus on both the linguistic and rhetorical/discursive strategies that these policy makers employ for such functions as endorsing, negotiating, legitimating, or even contesting given policy proposals. Secondly, the thesis endeavours to bring to light the different and changing conceptions of gender (in)equality espoused by the various policy actors involved in Kenya’s policy discourse of women’s rights over a critical ten-year period between 1995 and 2005. These policy actors include the Kenyan government; women’s non-governmental organizations (NGOs) who actively seek to influence government policy; and the United Nations’ organizations with responsibility for ensuring the implementation of women’s human rights. Thirdly, the thesis attempts to show the extent to which policy initiatives proposed by the human rights-based women’s NGOs in Kenya are taken up in the texts produced by the Kenyan government. In order to gain a better understanding of the discursive interactions between and amongst the policy actors in this study, an intertextual approach to Norman Fairclough’s model of critical discourse analysis (CDA) was used. The thesis drew discourse samples for analysis from the Kenyan government’s periodic reports detailing progress towards fully meeting the terms of the Convention on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW); the documents produced by the Committee overseeing the Convention that provided assessment of the Kenyan government’s reports; the Kenyan government’s official texts on gender policy; and Kenyan women NGOs’ annual reports and other texts. Though many scholars and researchers of women’s rights praise the UN Committee’s imperatives for bringing about policy changes concerning women’s rights globally, the findings from this study confirm that the Committee for CEDAW has only textual power, and that it lacks enforcement powers to ensure the implementation of the universal rights of women within the local milieu. In a similar vein, this study demonstrates that though the women’s NGOs play a significant role both in terms of identifying important areas of concern for policy intervention, and in necessitating changes in the genres of the national government, their participation has largely failed to ensure the Kenyan government’s epistemological shift from its current state of recognizing the existence of women’s rights, to the phase of implementing them. This thesis also establishes that differing conceptions of gender (in)equality and ideological differences between the Committee for CEDAW and the Kenyan government tend to influence both the Committee’s and the Kenyan government’s use of varied discourses, genres, and styles, with the intent of manipulating to outmanoeuvre one another. This means that both the Kenyan government and the Committee live in different worlds, suggesting a continuing gap between the Committee’s normative knowledge of women’s rights to gender equality, and the Kenyan government’s cultural relativist perspectives concerning such rights. As a solution to these power struggles and political differences that derail policy making on gender equality, this study recommends the need both for the Committee and the Kenyan government to employ a reflexive and pragmatic mix of both the universalist and cultural relativist approaches to gender equality. This will bring forth shared areas of interest concerning women’s rights between the UN and the Kenyan government, based on their applicability within the local context. Moreover, such an approach will create a possibility for the Committee to understand the Kenyan government’s cultural relativist/competing discourse of women’s rights as another way of conceiving gender equality (i.e. productive power-knowledges), rather than viewing them as irrelevant cultural claims that stand in stark opposition to the universal understandings of women’s rights to gender equality. Likewise, the aforesaid reflexive and pragmatic mix of approaches will help the Kenyan policy makers to develop a more critical and nuanced view of the universal approaches to gender equality, thereby reducing their varied forms of resistance to gender equality via subtle evasive strategies. Methodologically, this thesis shows how a comparative intertextual approach to Fairclough’s model of critical discourse analysis can be used as a framework for establishing the relations between policy text and context. This framework includes the micro-level of textual/linguistic analysis, the meso level of discursive interactions, and the macro level of socio-cultural practice at the local, institutional, and societal levels. Theoretically, the thesis demonstrates the different ways in which particular philosophical arguments and emancipatory concepts from Foucault’s theory of governmentality and transnational feminist rhetorical theory can be combined and exploited by linguists to promote different ways of theorizing and thinking concerning the development of policies for promoting gender equality.

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  • Tama Samoa Stories: Experiences and Perceptions of Identity, Belonging and Future Aspirations at Secondary School

    Rimoni, Fuapepe (2016)

    Doctoral thesis
    Victoria University of Wellington

    This thesis investigates the experiences of twelve strong, articulate and thoughtful tama Samoa (Samoan boys) through their participation in secondary schools and lives outside the classroom and through the stories of others. The study looked at how the students enacted their identities as Samoans, as learners and as young men who are anticipating the future. The study is premised on the view that Pacific identities are fluid, diverse, multi-dimensional and include a range of different perspectives relating to social class, ethnicity, culture and gender. Such a view of identity as complex is not generally taken into consideration in the literature on educational success and achievement of Pacific students in New Zealand. The study employed a phenomenological qualitative design, using focus groups and semi-structured interviews by talanoa (conversations). As the study involved a group of indigenous tama Samoa, the Samoan fa’afaletui method was used. Participants were a group of twelve tama Samoa in three Wellington secondary schools and their twelve nominated persons. The study found that there are key aspects to making the experiences of tama Samoa positive and successful within the secondary school. These include acknowledging tama Samoa and their multiple identities while attending secondary school; supporting the development of a sense of belonging through everyday interactions with peers and teachers, and affirming the belief by tama Samoa that secondary school socialisation serves to help them make future decisions. This study argues that the experiences of tama Samoa are deeply embedded within wider social, economic and political trends. Indeed, their “voices” are shaped in part by these broader forces that construct and represent them as being historically “disadvantaged” and socio-economically “underserved.” Further, this study advocates for the diverse voices of tama Samoa, along with their experiences, stories, hopes, aspirations and dreams to be brought to light and placed alongside the official accounts of Pacific “disadvantage” to enable more balanced critical discourses taking place. It is hoped that this study will offer further insights into the experiences of tama Samoa in the New Zealand secondary school context, from which valuable knowledge is derived to inform and support schools in improving the New Zealand secondary school experiences of Samoan adolescent boys.

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  • Feverish: Self-Induced Fever and the Creative Mind

    Fenster, Giovanna (2016)

    Doctoral thesis
    Victoria University of Wellington

    This thesis is a hybrid work that combines the critical and creative components of the Creative Writing PhD in a novel, Feverish. It includes notes, an afterword, and a full bibliography. Feverish is a novel narrated by Gigi, a writer who wishes to induce a fever in herself. The thesis aims to present more than a fictional account of a quest for fever. It aims, rather to travel with the mind of the protagonist. Gigi is not exclusively engaged in quest-related transactions in her present. Her interest in fever moves her to consider events from her past and her upbringing in Apartheid South Africa. It reminds her of a teenaged fascination with brain fever in Wuthering Heights. It prompts her to research fever-related aspects of psychiatric history and Jewish history. It drives her to research the law on consent to self-harm. As Gigi’s interest in fever leads her to these and other topics, so the thesis follows her, so the form adapts. In both its form and its content, Feverish presents a view into a mind. It provides glimpses of the events that shaped the mind. It describes where the mind goes when in the single-minded grip of a quasi-fever. The novel contains strands of theory, memoir, creative non-fiction, ficto-criticism. These different forms are layered upon each other. At times they make way for each other. At times they assert themselves over each other. In the notes at the end of the novel, the theoretical strand is at its most assertive. The notes present Gigi’s mind at its most critical, when it is directed at supporting the theoretical aspects of her quest. They support Gigi’s accounts of her research by providing additional information and citations. The narrative arc is provided by a chronological account of the days Gigi devotes to her fever quest. What follows here is a skeleton account of the novel. Feverish opens with a conversation between Gigi and a friend. This conversation spurs Gigi to explore brave artistic acts, and to the decision to induce a fever in herself. She remembers childhood holidays. Books, and in particular the nineteenth-century children’s literature that featured fever, are the focal point of these memories. Gigi recalls one particular holiday, taken at a time when a friend of hers, Simon, was just starting to show signs of mental illness. Gigi starts planning her fever. She writes a ‘fever manifesto’. But she worries her siblings will think her insane. She remembers Alberto, a schizophrenic patient of her father’s for whom recovery had, according to his parents, been foretold. Gigi’s husband, son and daughter are introduced. The family has a dinnertime discussion on bravery, anti-Semitism and terrorist attacks. Gigi starts researching fever. She imagines a conversation between her deceased father and Simon about Julius Wagner-Jauregg, a Nobel Prize-winning psychiatrist who induced malaria in patients suffering from neurosyphilis. Gigi’s father and Simon discuss an historic ‘showdown’ between Wagner-Jauregg and Freud. Gigi remembers Steve Biko’s death and her father’s aggressive response to a guest who supported Biko’s doctors. Gigi is distracted from her research into fever by her son, who is vacuuming his room. She tells him a friend of hers is thinking of inducing a fever in herself. He explains the difference between fever and hyperthermia. Gigi realises that, to induce true fever, she will have to become ill. This prompts memories of the meningitis her brother suffered from as a child. Gigi uses Fildes’s famous painting, The Doctor as the starting point in an argument for a universal desire to be watched over in illness. Gigi imagines a conversation she feels she ought to have had with her father, about (mental) illness in Wuthering Heights. They test the characters against each one’s ability to empathise with Catherine’s ‘brain fever’. Their discussion of Nelly’s status as servant prompts in Gigi the memory of a shameful childhood act. A visit from a friend from law school prompts Gigi to research the law that could impact on her quest. She reviews case law relating to consent to self-harm, personal autonomy, and the boundaries of criminal law. Her research is interrupted by domestic concerns: her cat kills an endangered bird; her son writes a fever-related essay for school; she accompanies a friend in looking for her errant daughter. At the end of the novel Gigi and her family confront a crisis. It becomes clear that Gigi is not the only family member unsettled by fever.

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  • Interference Alignment and Cancellation in Wireless Communication Systems

    Ustok, Refik (2016)

    Doctoral thesis
    Victoria University of Wellington

    The Shannon capacity of wireless networks has a fundamental importance for network information theory. This area has recently seen remarkable progress on a variety of problems including the capacity of interference networks, X networks, cellular networks, cooperative communication networks and cognitive radio networks. While each communication scenario has its own characteristics, a common reason of these recent developments is the new idea of interference alignment. The idea of interference alignment is to consolidate the interference into smaller dimensions of signal space at each receiver and use the remaining dimensions to transmit the desired signals without any interference. However, perfect alignment of interference requires certain assumptions, such as perfect channel state information at transmitter and receiver, perfect synchronization and feedback. Today’s wireless communication systems, on the other and, do not encounter such ideal conditions. In this thesis, we cover a breadth of topics of interference alignment and cancellation schemes in wireless communication systems such as multihop relay networks, multicell networks as well as cooperation and optimisation in such systems. Our main contributions in this thesis can be summarised as follows: • We derive analytical expressions for an interference alignment scheme in a multihop relay network with imperfect channel state information, and investigate the impact of interference on such systems where interference could accumulate due to the misalignment at each hop. • We also address the dimensionality problem in larger wireless communication systems such as multi-cellular systems. We propose precoding schemes based on maximising signal power over interference and noise. We show that these precoding vectors would dramatically improve the rates for multi-user cellular networks in both uplink and downlink, without requiring an excessive number of dimensions. Furthermore, we investigate how to improve the receivers which can mitigate interference more efficiently. • We also propose partial cooperation in an interference alignment and cancellation scheme. This enables us to assess the merits of varying mixture of cooperative and non-cooperative users and the gains achievable while reducing the overhead of channel estimation. In addition to this, we analytically derive expressions for the additional interference caused by imperfect channel estimation in such cooperative systems. We also show the impact of imperfect channel estimation on cooperation gains. • Furthermore, we propose jointly optimisation of interference alignment and cancellation for multi-user multi-cellular networks in both uplink and downlink. We find the optimum set of transceivers which minimise the mean square error at each base station. We demonstrate that optimised transceivers can outperform existing interference alignment and cancellation schemes. • Finally, we consider power adaptation and user selection schemes. The simulation results indicate that user selection and power adaptation techniques based on estimated rates can improve the overall system performance significantly.

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  • The Interface of Copyright and Human Rights: Access to Copyright Works for the Visually Impaired

    Ayoubi, Lida (2017-03-03)

    Doctoral thesis
    Victoria University of Wellington

    Reproduction of copyright protected material in formats that are accessible to the blind and visually impaired persons constitutes a copyright infringement unless there are specific limitations and exceptions in place. Most countries do not have copyright limitations and exceptions for the benefit of the visually impaired in their copyright laws. This has contributed to the issue of book famine, meaning the unsatisfactory access to copyright protected material for the blind and visually impaired. This thesis examines the claims of the visually impaired for improved access to copyright protected works in the context of the interface of human rights and intellectual property rights. This research demonstrates that insufficient access to copyright protected material is discriminatory against the visually impaired and negatively affects their human rights such as the right to education, information, health, employment, culture, and science. Moreover, the thesis analyses the international and domestic copyright law’s impact on the needs of the visually impaired. In analysing the international copyright law, the thesis evaluates the Marrakesh Treaty to Facilitate Access to Published Works by Visually Impaired Persons and Persons with Print Disabilities. Highlighting the insufficient consideration for the rights of the visually impaired in domestic and international copyright laws including the Marrakesh Treaty, the thesis proposes adoption of a human rights framework for copyright law to the extent that it affects the human rights of the visually impaired. Such framework requires copyright law to accommodate those human rights of the visually impaired that are dependent on access to copyright protected material. The thesis offers two categories of measures for creation of a human rights framework for copyright to the extent that it affects the human rights of the visually impaired. The measures include optimisation of already available options and adoption of new mechanisms. The first category discusses minimum mandatory copyright limitations and exceptions and the possibility to harmonise them. The second category covers extra measures such as clarifying the implications of different human rights and copyrights in the context of the book famine; ensuring compatibility of human rights and copyright when adopting policy and law; and, regular monitoring of the impact of copyright law on human rights.

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  • Street perceptions: A study of visual preferences for New Zealand streetscapes

    Gjerde, Morten (2015)

    Doctoral thesis
    Victoria University of Wellington

    City leaders often make reference to their built and natural environments when they compete domestically or internationally for financial investment, tourism spending and high quality workers. These leaders are aware that people in the workforce, investors and tourists would prefer to be associated with vibrant and attractive places. Research has confirmed the important role the appearance of the built environment plays in people’s physical, financial and psychological wellbeing, not the least of which is helping to foster a sense of individual and community pride. However, there is also literature critical of the appearance of many individual buildings and urban streetscapes, particularly those that have arisen through the well-intentioned but uncoordinated efforts of those involved in the development of individual sites. Recognising that wider public interests have not always been well-served by private development, governments and local authorities become involved to control development outcomes. One aspect of development control is design review, which aims to improve the quality of urban places by influencing the design of individual buildings. However, given that design review is administered by professional experts and that design guidance is based on normative expressions of what good design should be, what assurances are there that urban transformation meets with public expectations? The research reported in this thesis addresses this question. This research seeks to identify those streetscape design characteristics that are best liked by people and those that they dislike. A methodology based on mixed research methods was developed. An initial study sought people’s preferences for six different urban streetscapes, as depicted photographically. Analysis of nearly 200 responses to the survey questionnaire identified several building and streetscape characteristics that were consistently liked and disliked. To explore these and other responses from another perspective, a second study was designed that would examine people’s preferences in more detail and on the basis of their actual experience of the streetscapes. Study Two was developed around three separate case studies and two focus group discussions. Demographic information about the 156 survey respondents was collected, along with their aesthetic perceptions about individual buildings, relationships between buildings and overall streetscapes. This enabled comparisons to be made on the bases of gender, age and occupational background. Of particular interest was to understand the streetscape preferences of lay members of the public, those whose interests design review aims to ensure, and change professionals, who make the design and planning decisions. Two focus group discussions were convened, one for change professionals and the other for lay people, to explore findings from the survey in more detail. The results indicate that people prefer older buildings whose façade designs are based on more traditional composition patterns, and that the activities with which a building is associated have considerable influence on perceptions. These are two matters about which design control of new building development is not interested. In general, people prefer moderate variations in height between buildings along the length of a street and change professionals seem to tolerate/prefer bigger variations than others. Abrupt differences in height between adjoining buildings were viewed negatively by lay people, in large part because blank walls on internal boundaries become evident. On the other hand, change professionals were less sensitive to such differences, in part because they understood the nature of change and anticipated that future change would help heal such conflicts. In addition to exploring people’s perceptions of New Zealand streetscapes the thesis discusses several of the best-liked and the least-liked buildings in the context of design control processes in order to speculate about which methods might hold the greatest promise for creating well-liked urban streetscapes. While this discussion is relevant it sits outside the main thrust of the project and is necessarily brief. In anticipation that this discussion will continue the thesis concludes with a summary of the matters around which design control could, and perhaps should, be interested, based on the collected evidence. The findings of the research help us to better understand how people perceive urban streetscapes and therefore these become a platform for future work, one aspect of which could explore how people’s preferences can be better integrated with development control.

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  • Good tax policy on shaky ground? An assessment of tax policy responses to natural disasters

    Palmer, Carolyn (2017)

    Doctoral thesis
    Victoria University of Wellington

    Recent years have seen a series of natural disasters place significant social and fiscal strain on a number of economies. Determining the appropriate tax response to natural disasters involves multiple complex policy decisions, which often need to be made under significant time pressure with limited information. While natural disasters are predicted to become more frequent and costly, there has been little focus on the links between tax policy development and responses to natural disasters. In particular, no research has systematically compared international tax policy responses to natural disasters. This thesis outlines the tax responses in the pre-disaster, disaster response, and post-disaster recovery stages of the 2010/11 Canterbury earthquakes in New Zealand and the 2010/11 Queensland floods in Australia. By summarising the responses in this way, a useful resource for future tax policy makers has been created. These tax responses are evaluated against the standard economic principles of good tax policy, and an investigation is made into the relationship between the responses and the strength of the existing tax policy system, as measured by OECD, World Bank and other expert reviews. As part of that investigation, individual case studies are presented that dissect 44 semi-structured interviews with tax policy makers from Australia and New Zealand, selected to represent the views of government officials, tax practitioners and tax academics. A large number of legislative documents, policy reports, formal reports, technical guidance, submissions, academic literature and media items prepared by these policy makers are also analysed. The analysis shows that both countries had a range of pre-existing rules for dealing with natural disasters but there were gaps and a lack of consistency, which were more pronounced in New Zealand. The immediate response in both countries involved significant administrative effort, and in New Zealand there were a large number of legislative changes which reflected the comparative lack of pre-disaster tax settings. New Zealand also made a large number of changes to support post-disaster recovery. Such changes were not required following the Queensland floods, because timing issues for revenue expenditure and the timing or taxation of capital expenditure had previously been addressed by earlier generic tax changes and Australia’s comprehensive capital gains tax (CGT). While both countries were forced to consider funding options for recovery, pressure was mitigated in New Zealand by high levels of public and private insurance, allowing the New Zealand government to rely on existing taxes and increased debt. The Australian government, which did not have a disaster fund or insurance scheme, implemented a one-year flood levy. New Zealand also supported reconstruction through tax incentives. In contrast, no such measures were proposed or enacted in Australia, due to existing rules, Australia’s comprehensive CGT, and the extensive range of Australian government disaster recovery grants which reduce pressure for tax incentives to aid recovery. The empirically-based patterns from the two case studies suggest that countries with stronger existing tax policy systems have tax responses to natural disasters which align more with the standard economic principles of good tax policy, even when they are less prepared for an event. However, any weaknesses will also be reflected in the tax responses made.

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  • Living nursing values: A collective case study

    Rook, Helen (2017)

    Doctoral thesis
    Victoria University of Wellington

    Distinctive humanistic values are foundational in professional nursing practice, commonly shared by members of the profession and the mainstay of how nurses act. The foundational values of the nursing discipline are balanced with clinical knowledge and technical skill. Nursing values presuppose nurses’ responsibility to nurture and protect, to heal, to cultivate healthy behaviours and attitudes, and to be present (physically and intellectually) during times of vulnerability, illness or injury. The rationale for this study came from the recognition that nursing has changed, so too have the characteristics of patients and the way healthcare is operationalised. Nurses are challenged on a daily basis to negotiate between meeting the complex needs of patients whilst addressing healthcare priorities and attending to their own personal and professional requirements. There is a growing philosophical debate about whether the healthcare climate is dehumanising health care professionals’ encounters with patients, including those of nurses, and creating a culture where enacted values are inconsistent with professionalism. The purpose of the research was to explore the values of professional nurses practicing in medical ward environments and how these values are lived in day-to-day practice. Case Study methodology was used to capture the contextual conditions of nursing values in nurses’ daily practice. Data collection was carried out in three medical wards in New Zealand; data were triangulated using observations, focus groups, interviews, burnout survey and theoretical application. The major theoretical and philosophical influences on the research, which were used to explore the data, were those of Isabel Menzies’ defences against anxiety and Edith Stein’s phenomenological theory of motivation and value. Key findings indicate that healthcare environments obstruct the enactment of humanistic nursing values stimulating value dissonance for nurses between how they want to practice and how they actually practice. Conflict arises from nurses experiencing systems that foster managerialism and cultures of anxiety. In order to cope with value dissonance, nurses enact unconscious defence mechanisms; resulting in constrained nursing practice, exhaustion, cynicism and burnout. This thesis challenges the nursing profession to acknowledge and address the visibility of nursing values in contemporary practice, as well as acknowledge the dissonance that exists between the values of nursing and the values that drive healthcare delivery. Humanistic nursing values remain important to practicing nurses. This study identifies in detail the every-day difficulties nurses face in seeking to enact their values and the managerial challenges that confront them. This information offers a trustworthy analysis of the challenges the nursing profession faces in addressing this problem. It also offers a basis for developing approaches that could strengthen nurses’ ability to enact the humanistic values they are professionally committed to provide. It is critical that any attempt to embed nursing values into clinical nursing practice is founded on a strategy that recognises and mitigates against dysfunctional organisations and organisational constraints. Drawing on findings from this thesis, it is recommended that the articulation and development of nursing values in acute clinical environments is responsive to organisational factors. Through this, the nursing community can develop, articulate and operationalise nursing values.

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  • Investigating vocabulary in academic spoken English: Corpora, teachers, and learners

    Dang, Thi Ngoc Yen (2017)

    Doctoral thesis
    Victoria University of Wellington

    Understanding academic spoken English is challenging for second language (L2) learners at English-medium universities. A lack of vocabulary is a major reason for this difficulty. To help these learners overcome this challenge, it is important to examine the nature of vocabulary in academic spoken English. This thesis presents three linked studies which were conducted to address this need. Study 1 examined the lexical coverage in nine spoken and nine written corpora of four well-known general high-frequency word lists: West’s (1953) General Service List (GSL), Nation’s (2006) BNC2000, Nation’s (2012) BNC/COCA2000, and Brezina and Gablasova’s (2015) New-GSL. Study 2 further compared the BNC/COCA2000 and the New-GSL, which had the highest coverage in Study 1. It involved 25 English first language (L1) teachers, 26 Vietnamese L1 teachers, 27 various L1 teachers, and 275 Vietnamese English as a Foreign Language learners. The teachers completed 10 surveys in which they rated the usefulness of 973 non-overlapping items between the BNC/COCA2000 and the New-GSL for their learners in a five-point Likert scale. The learners took the Vocabulary Levels Test (Nation, 1983, 1990; Schmitt, Schmitt, & Clapham, 2001), and 15 Yes/No tests which measured their knowledge of the 973 words. Study 3 involved compiling two academic spoken corpora, one academic written corpus, and one non-academic spoken corpus. Each contains approximately 13-million running words. The academic spoken corpora contained four equally-sized sub-corpora. From the first academic spoken corpus, 1,741 word families were selected for the Academic Spoken Word List (ASWL). The coverage of the ASWL and the BNC/COCA2000 in the four corpora and the potential coverage of the ASWL for learners of different vocabulary levels were determined. Six main findings were drawn from these studies. First, in the first academic spoken corpus, the ASWL and its levels had slightly higher coverage in certain disciplinary sub-corpora than in the others. Yet, the list provided around 90% coverage of each sub-corpus. It helps learners to achieve 92%-96% coverage of academic speech depending on their levels. Second, the BNC/COCA2000 is the most suitable general high-frequency word list for L2 learners from the perspectives of corpus linguistics, teachers, and learners. It provided higher coverage than the GSL and the BNC2000, and had more words known by learners and perceived as being useful by teachers than the New-GSL. Third, general high-frequency words, especially the most frequent 1,000 words, provided much higher coverage in spoken corpora than written corpora in both academic and non-academic discourse. Fourth, despite the importance of general high-frequency words, a reasonable proportion of the learners had insufficient knowledge of these words, which highlights the importance of a word list which is adaptable to learners’ proficiency like the ASWL. Fifth, lexical coverage had significant but small correlations with teacher perception of word usefulness and learner vocabulary knowledge. Sixth, the Vietnamese L1 teachers had the highest correlation between the teacher ratings of word usefulness and the learner vocabulary knowledge. Next came the various L1 teachers, and then the English L1 teachers. This thesis also provides theoretical, pedagogical, and methodological implications of these findings so that L2 learners can gain better support in their vocabulary development and achieve better comprehension of academic spoken English.

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  • Asymptotic methods of testing statistical hypotheses

    Nguyen, Thuong (2017)

    Doctoral thesis
    Victoria University of Wellington

    For a long time, the goodness of fit (GOF) tests have been one of the main objects of the theory of testing of statistical hypotheses. These tests possess two essential properties. Firstly, the asymptotic distribution of GOF test statistics under the null hypothesis is free from the underlying distribution within the hypothetical family. Secondly, they are of omnibus nature, which means that they are sensitive to every alternative to the null hypothesis. GOF tests are typically based on non-linear functionals from the empirical process. The first idea to change the focus from particular functionals to the transformation of the empirical process itself into another process, which will be asymptotically distribution free, was first formulated and accomplished by {\bf Khmaladze} \cite{Estate1}. Recently, the same author in consecutive papers \cite{Estate} and \cite{Estate2} introduced another method, called here the {\bf Khmaladze-2} transformation, which is distinct from the first Khmaladze transformation and can be used for an even wider class of hypothesis testing problems and is simpler in implementation. This thesis shows how the approach could be used to create the asymptotically distribution free empirical process in two well-known testing problems. The first problem is the problem of testing independence of two discrete random variables/vectors in a contingency table context. Although this problem has a long history, the use of GOF tests for it has been restricted to only one possible choice -- the chi-square test and its several modifications. We start our approach by viewing the problem as one of parametric hypothesis testing and suggest looking at the marginal distributions as parameters. The crucial difficulty is that when the dimension of the table is large, the dimension of the vector of parameters is large as well. Nevertheless, we demonstrate the efficiency of our approach and confirm by simulations the distribution free property of the new empirical process and the GOF tests based on it. The number of parameters is as big as $30$. As an additional benefit, we point out some cases when the GOF tests based on the new process are more powerful than the traditional chi-square one. The second problem is testing whether a distribution has a regularly varying tail. This problem is inspired mainly by the fact that regularly varying tail distributions play an essential role in characterization of the domain of attraction of extreme value distributions. While there are numerous studies on estimating the exponent of regular variation of the tail, using GOF tests for testing relevant distributions has appeared in few papers. We contribute to this latter aspect a construction of a class of GOF tests for testing regularly varying tail distributions.

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  • Fostering incidental vocabulary uptake from audio-visual materials: The role of text comprehension

    Nguyễn, Chí Đức (2017)

    Doctoral thesis
    Victoria University of Wellington

    This research project explores various factors that may influence the rate of incidental foreign/second language (L2) vocabulary acquisition from audio-visual materials, with a special focus on procedures that enhance learners’ comprehension of these input materials. Informed by relevant theories and research findings in the fields of L2 listening comprehension and incidental vocabulary acquisition, I investigate the effects of having learners (a) view a TED Talks video twice rather than once, (b) sum up the content of the video before watching it a second time, (c) watch TED Talks videos on the same subject in order to increase familiarity with that subject, and (d) exchange summaries of TED Talks videos with peers so as to assist each other’s subsequent processing of those videos. As these interventions are all deemed to facilitate L2 listening comprehension, they are also expected to create favourable conditions for incidental vocabulary uptake to occur. The effects on incidental vocabulary acquisition of the above interventions were gauged in a series of classroom experiments with Vietnamese EFL learners. Although vocabulary uptake was generally far from spectacular, all of the tested procedures were found to result in statistically significant vocabulary gains. The insertion of the output tasks (i.e., the summary activities) was particularly useful. First, they helped to enhance the learners’ text comprehension. Second, they created opportunities for the learners to use newly met words and thus consolidate their knowledge of these lexical items. A thread through the experimental data is the strong association between the learners’ vocabulary uptake and their comprehension of the input content. The findings from this research project are consistent with several established notions, models and theories in the fields, including Ausubel’s Advance Organizer (1978), Hulstijn and Laufer’s Involvement Load Hypothesis (2001), Krashen’s Input Hypothesis (1985), Nation’s Vocabulary Generation (2013), Swain’s Output Hypothesis (2005), and Wittrock’s Model of Generative Teaching of Comprehension (1991). However, there are also findings that go beyond the core tenets of these, and that can further our understanding of how learners process new lexical items in meaning-focused input and output tasks. Regarding pedagogical implications, this research project confirms that fostering L2 listening comprehension creates favourable conditions for incidental vocabulary acquisition to happen, and that the aforementioned classroom procedures are facilitative in this regard, albeit to different degrees.

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  • Discriminative Stimulus Properties of MDMA: The Role of Serotonin and Dopamine

    Webster, Jeremy (2016)

    Doctoral thesis
    Victoria University of Wellington

    Rationale: ±3,4-methylenedioxymethamphetamine (MDMA, “ecstasy”) produces unique and complex subjective effects which distinguish it from other recreationally used drugs. An understanding of the neurochemical mechanisms that underlie these effects is important in order to assess the potential for MDMA abuse and to inform researchers exploring of the drug’s therapeutic potential. The present thesis investigated the neurochemical mechanisms underlying the subjective effects of MDMA using drug discrimination procedures in laboratory animals. Despite evidence that training dose can markedly impact the results of drug discrimination studies, the impact of training dose on the discriminative stimulus properties of MDMA has been largely overlooked. The broad aims of these experiments were 1) to test the ability of two different doses of MDMA to support drug discrimination learning, and 2) to determine the role of serotonin (5-HT) and dopamine (DA) neurotransmitter systems in producing the discriminative stimulus effects of each MDMA training dose. Methods: Groups of rats were trained to discriminate MDMA (1.5 or 3.0 mg/kg) from saline or to discriminate MDMA (1.5 or 3.0 mg/kg) from amphetamine (0.5 mg/kg) and saline, using two- or three-lever, food-reinforced drug discrimination procedures. The first experiments determined the impact of training dose on the acquisition of the MDMA discrimination. Reliability of the discrimination was assessed by measuring the impact of changes in acquisition criteria. Once the discrimination had been acquired, generalisation tests were carried out in two-lever experiments with the SSRIs, fluoxetine and clomipramine, the 5-HT2 agonists, mCPP and DOI, and the 5-HT1 agonists, 8-OH-DPAT and RU-24969, to investigate the role of 5-HT in the discriminative stimulus effects of 1.5 mg/kg vs 3.0 mg/kg MDMA. Next, the role of DA was investigated in further generalisation test sessions with the DA releasing stimulant, AMPH, the non-selective D1/D2 agonist, apomorphine, the D1 agonist, SKF38393, and the D2 agonist, quinpirole. Finally, experiments were carried out in which the ability of the 5-HT2A antagonist, ketanserin, the 5-HT1B/1D antagonist, GR-127935, the 5-HT1A antagonist, WAY100635, the D1 antagonist, SCH23390, and the D2 antagonist, eticlopride, to attenuate the discriminative stimulus effects of 1.5 mg/kg vs 3.0 mg/kg MDMA was assessed. Results: A higher training dose of MDMA was associated with a more rapid acquisition of drug discrimination in both the two- and three-lever tasks, and significant differences were observed with respect to the ability of each dose of MDMA to maintain consistently accurate discrimination across both tasks. All of the serotonin agonists that were tested generalised to the discriminative stimulus effects of 1.5 mg/kg MDMA in a two-lever discrimination task. In contrast, only agonists for 5-HT1A or 5-HT2A receptors generalised to the discriminative stimulus effects of 3.0 mg/kg MDMA. Non-selective dopamine agonists generalised to the discriminative stimulus effects of 3.0 mg/kg but not 1.5 mg/kg MDMA, whereas selective D1 and D2 agonists failed to generalise to the discriminative stimulus effects of either training dose. None of the DA or 5-HT antagonists tested had a marked impact of the discrimination of 1.5 mg/kg MDMA whereas administration of a D2 antagonist produced a small but significant attenuation on the discriminative stimulus effects of 3.0 mg/kg MDMA. Conclusions: The results of the present thesis suggest that the discriminative stimulus effects of MDMA may change both quantitatively and qualitatively as a function of dose. The subjective effects produced by lower doses appear to be mediated primarily via serotonergic mechanisms, whereas higher doses may involve the additional recruitment of dopaminergic mechanisms. These findings have implications for our understanding of MDMA in terms of the drug’s potential for dependence and abuse.

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  • Heke Mai Ki Ahau Nei E! Roka Paora's Contributions To Tukunga Iho A Te Whānau-a-Apanui And Te Reo O Te Whānau-a-Apanui

    Richards, Parehau (2016)

    Doctoral thesis
    Victoria University of Wellington

    Throughout the twentieth century Te Whānau-a-Apanui scholars continued to assert distinctive features of Te Whānau-a-Apanui identity through both literary and non-literary texts. Roka Pahewa Paora contributed to this important work by producing Māori texts for Māori language students and the community. Those texts became well-known in the field of Māori education for asserting distinctive features of te reo o Te Whānau-a-Apanui. This thesis explores a selection of tukunga iho a Te Whānau-a-Apanui, kōrero tuku iho and taonga tuku iho, to illustrate how Roka and other Te Whānau-a-Apanui scholars before and after her have embraced and passed down tukunga iho a Te Whānau-a-Apanui by renewing or extending core elements, otherwise referred to in this thesis as the iho, of earlier tukunga iho a Te Whānau-a-Apanui. Specifically, this thesis examines Roka’s published writings ‘Ka Haere a Hata Mā Ki te Hī Moki’ (Paora, 1971) and ‘He Kōrero Mō te Mahi Wēra i Te Whānau-a-Apanui’ (Paora in Moorfield, 1992) as extensions of earlier tukunga iho a Te Whānau-a-Apanui about moki and whales. My analysis focuses on how Roka applied the knowledge, language and history of earlier tukunga iho a Te Whānau-a-Apanui to her writings to assert te reo o Te Whānau-a-Apanui. Therefore, this thesis uses a tukunga iho framework to illustrate familial and intellectual connections between and across a selection of tukunga iho a Te Whānau-a-Apanui and the tribal scholars that produced them. Roka’s writings and archive are repositories of important tukunga iho and provide connections to tribal, Māori and non-Māori scholars who offer insights and interpretations of mātauranga Māori that have been applied to Māori studies paradigms and kaupapa Māori. This wider range of knowledge, language and historical sources also help me to show how tukunga iho a Te Whānau-a-Apanui contain important insights into the social, cultural and economic contexts in which my ancestors embraced, extended and passed down tukunga iho a Te Whānau-a-Apanui. Overall, this thesis offers twenty-first century interpretations of tukunga iho a Te Whānau-a-Apanui and how they assert te reo o Te Whānau-a-Apanui.

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  • Characterising the Anthropocene: Ecological Degradation in Italian Twenty-First Century Literary Writing

    Macilenti, Alessandro (2015)

    Doctoral thesis
    Victoria University of Wellington

    The twenty-first century has witnessed the exacerbation of ecological issues that began to manifest themselves in the mid-twentieth century. It has become increasingly clear that the current environmental crisis poses an unprecedented existential threat to civilization as well as to Homo sapiens itself. Whereas the physical and social sciences have been defining the now inevitable transition to a different (and more inhospitable) Earth, the humanities have yet to assert their role as a transformative force within the context of global environmental change. Turning abstract issues into narrative form, literary writing can increase awareness of environmental issues as well as have a deep emotive influence on its readership. To showcase this type of writing as well as the methodological frameworks that best highlights the social and ethical relevance of such texts alongside their literary value, I have selected the following twenty-first century Italian literary works: Roberto Saviano’s Gomorra, Kai Zen’s Delta blues,Wu Ming’s Previsioni del tempo, Simona Vinci’s Rovina, Giancarlo di Cataldo’s Fuoco!, Laura Pugno’s Sirene, and Alessandra Montrucchio’s E poi la sete, all published between 2006 and 2011. The main goal of this study is to demonstrate how these works offer an invaluable opportunity to communicate meaningfully and accessibly the discomforting truths of global environmental change, including ecomafia, waste trafficking, illegal building, arson, ozone depletion, global warming and the dysfunctional relationship between humanity and the biosphere.

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  • Foraging Behaviour and Individuality in the Common Wasp (Vespula vulgaris)

    Santoro, Davide (2015)

    Doctoral thesis
    Victoria University of Wellington

    The extreme ecological success of insect societies is frequently attributed to the division of labour within their colonies (Chittka & Muller, 2009; Holldobler & Wilson, 2009; E. Wilson & Hölldobler, 2005). Yet, we are far from understanding the causes and consequences of division of labour, implying workers’ specialization (Chittka & Muller, 2009; Dornhaus, 2008). Moreover, little studied is the behaviour of individual workers (Jeanson & Weidenmüller, 2013). Social wasps (Hymenoptera: Vespidae) have received less attention than social bees and ants, and our knowledge of basic aspect of their ecology is still poor (Jeanne, 1991; Greene, 1991). With my thesis, I aimed to contribute to a better understanding of the common wasp (Vespula vulgaris) foraging ecology and organization of labour. With a particular attention to their foraging behaviour, I investigated the inter-individual variability among wasp workers and their cooperation. My thesis shows evidence of information sharing and co-ordination in V. vulgaris foragers’ activity. In fact, the discovery and choice of resources by wasp foragers was assisted by information provided by experienced nestmates (Chapter 2). When resources known to portion of the workforce became newly available, the foraging effort of the whole colony increased. My observations of common wasps are hence consistent with foraging activation mechanisms and suggest piloting (in which one individual leads one or more nestmates to a resource) as a possible foraging recruitment mechanism in social wasps. I found huge variation in lifetime activity, task performance, and survival among common wasp workers (Chapter 3). Some individuals specialized on alternative foraging tasks over their lifetime, and a minority individuals performed a disproportionately high number of foraging trips (elitism). Foragers appeared to become more successful with age, accomplishing more trips and carrying heavier fluid loads. Compared to smaller nestmates, larger wasps contributed more to the colony foraging economies. High mortality was associated with the beginning of the foraging activity, relative to lower mortality in more experienced workers. I evaluated the performance of common wasp workers within the same insect colony, and found empirical support for the hypothesis that specialist foragers are more efficient than generalists (Chapter 4). In fact, V. vulgaris behavioural specialists performed more trips per foraging day and their trips tended to be shorter. Despite their more intense foraging effort, specialists lived longer than generalists. I investigated the intra-colonial variation in the sting extension response (SER) of common wasps, measured as a proxy for individual aggressiveness (Chapter 5). I found that wasps vary greatly in their SER and that individuals change during their life. Aggressive individuals tended to become more docile, while docile individuals more aggressive. Older wasps tended to be more aggressive. Wasp size was not significantly related to the SER. Wasp foragers had a less pronounced sting extension than individuals previously involved in nest defence. For the same individual, the aggressive response was proportional to the intensity of the negative stimulus.

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  • An investigation of foreign exchange risk management by exporting small and medium sized enterprises

    Dang, Vu (2015)

    Doctoral thesis
    Victoria University of Wellington

    Previous studies on foreign exchange (forex) risk management have tended to focus on multinational enterprises; while how SMEs manage their forex risk is still largely unexplored. As small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs) are increasingly involved in international markets, they have become a new research setting on forex risk management. Given that SMEs have limited access to resources, skills and capabilities, internal hedging techniques could be favoured by SMEs. There is limited research on this matter, and the extant literature on forex management generally considers derivatives as major hedging techniques for large firms. This thesis primarily investigates how exporting SMEs manage forex risk. In addition, approaches to forex management could be changed as a firm becomes more experienced internationally. Following the basic principles of internationalisation theory, the thesis also examines the impact of the internationalisation degree of the firm on forex management decisions. This thesis sheds new light on SMEs’ hedging practices by providing a better understanding of SMEs’ choices of forex risk management. Three research questions have been raised: (1) what determinants influence SMEs’ choice to hedge as a way of managing forex risk; (2) what strategies do SMEs use when they choose hedging to manage forex exposure; and (3) how does the degree of internationalisation impact the choice of forex management. The thesis draws on two theoretical perspectives to help address these overarching questions. It extends the use of the resource-based view (RBV), and combines this with internationalisation theory. The setting of SMEs is a context for using the RBV. New Zealand and Australian exporting SMEs provide the sample for testing the hypotheses. The contributions of this thesis are twofold. Firstly, the thesis identifies four determinants of forex risk strategy by exporting SMEs, i.e. degree of internationalisation (specifically, export ratio), forex exposure, perceived forex risk, and resources. Secondly, it extends the use of the RBV and the internationalisation theory in forex risk management of SMEs. In addition, the thesis uses a research approach combining an exploratory qualitative study and a main quantitative study.

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  • Self-improvement books: A genre analysis

    Koay, Dong Liang (2015)

    Doctoral thesis
    Victoria University of Wellington

    The aim of the thesis is to explore the characteristics of self-improvement books as a genre. Although self-improvement books are a widely read genre, particularly in the Western world, none to my knowledge has examined the linguistic features of this genre in detail. The thesis draws on the three main schools of genre theory: English for Specific Purposes, Systemic Functional Linguistics, and the New Rhetoric, and begins by investigating the sections (e.g., acknowledgement, introduction chapter) in self-improvement books and the typicality of the sections. Focusing on three sections: introduction chapters, body chapters, and about the author sections, the thesis examines how authors structure the sections by analysing the moves and steps. This study also examines the stories in self-improvement books by analysing the purpose of the stories and their structure. Stories were chosen because they seemed to be a feature of self-improvement books based on my observation and as suggested by interview data. To analyse self-improvement books at a register level, the thesis examines the most unambiguous aspects of engagement: personal pronouns focusing on you, imperative clauses, and questions. It also examines the lexicogrammatical features of self-improvement book titles and compares them to the titles of historical biographies, showing that imperative clauses and ing-clause are found only in self-improvement book titles. Drawing on interview data and literature on the American Dream, American individualism, Neoliberalism, and New Age beliefs, the thesis explains how the linguistic characteristics of the genre of self-improvement books reflect these ideologies. The dataset for the study is 40 self-improvement books, selected on the basis of a set of criteria that I developed. Subsets were selected from the main dataset for specific analyses. The text analysis part of the study is supplemented by interview data from specialist informants, who come from three categories: readers of the genre, non-readers of the genre, and authors of the genre. Move analysis identifies obligatory rhetorical moves and indicates that the main purposes of introduction chapters and about the author sections are persuading readers to read the book, and establishing credibility, respectively. Authors always persuade readers to read their books by listing reasons to read them. To demonstrate authors’ credibility, they refer to their areas of expertise. Unlike the introduction chapters and about the author sections, the body chapters have more than one obligatory rhetorical move. The body chapters present the problem that readers potentially experience, present the authors’ message, recommend practical applications, and encourage readers to apply them. From a genre perspective, the purpose of all the stories in my analysis is to illustrate the authors’ message. Register analysis, and drawing on interview data, suggests that authors use the personal pronoun you, imperative clauses, and questions to engage readers. The abundance of the personal pronoun you suggests that self-improvement books are a reader-oriented genre. The analysis of the imperative clauses using Halliday’s process types suggests that the main way to improve our lives, the authors recommend, is to change how we think. Finally, my thesis shows that the social purpose of self-improvement books is to help potential readers improve their lives, and the approach of improving one’s life has an individualistic orientation.

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  • A Critical Realist Study of Political Identity in Aotearoa New Zealand: Materiality, Discourse and Context

    Woodhams, Jay (2015)

    Doctoral thesis
    Victoria University of Wellington

    Political identity is a complex phenomenon that is generated within a rich sociocultural context. This thesis examines political identity in informal talk which is situated within a relatively under-explored context, New Zealand’s capital city and political centre, Wellington. Grounding the study within the critical realist model of stratified reality provides the philosophical motivation to explore multi-layered discourses alongside the extra-discursive referents that underpin them. The analysis centres on a model of identity, contra postmodernism, which shows that identities, while socially recognised in discourse, are articulated in reference to physical and social structures. I adopt a comprehensive multi-layered approach to discourse by examining the macro sociocultural influences that appear to pattern interaction across the country, the meso-level subnational discourses that influence dialogue at a more situated level and the micro-level interactional stances taken up in everyday communication. Discourse at all levels is implicated in the identities I examine in this thesis and it is against this backdrop that I unpack political identity into its indexed discourses and constitutive stance acts. Framed by my ethnographic immersion in the study context and drawing on in-depth semi-structured interviews with twenty-six individuals, I explore the way in which discourse and stancetaking are implicated in the genesis of the participants’ political selves. I first consider the extra-discursive context, including the geographical, economic and cultural structures that underlie New Zealand discourses. This is followed by detailed analysis of sociocultural discourse as it appears in talk. I identify egalitarianism and tall poppy as two related discourses which are embedded within the historical context of the country. I also explore four subnational discourses relating to Wellington city, including the political town, left-wing and small town discourses, which occur alongside a discourse of contrast. These sociocultural and subnational discourses influence much of the talk that occurs in reference to politics in Wellington and are thus implicated in political identity as it is generated in moment-by-moment interaction. To explore this in further detail I examine the micro-level of interactional discourse, more specifically the processes of stancetaking, in two detailed case studies. The two focus participants demonstrate prominent stance processes which I argue are central to much identity work: intersubjectivity, in which the stances of all those involved in the discussion interact in complex ways; and multiplicity, when participants take numerous stance directions that appear to contribute to different aspects of their identities. The intensive focus on the case studies, alongside analysis of the full discursive and extra-discursive context, provides a multi-layered and philosophically anchored approach that seeks to contribute to current understandings of and approaches to the study of discourse and identity.

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