"You have to be your own doctor": neoliberal reconfigurations of expertise on thebump.com

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Publication Type thesis
School or College College of Humanities
Department Communication
Author Siska, Amanda Friz
Title "You have to be your own doctor": neoliberal reconfigurations of expertise on thebump.com
Date 2013
Description Expertise is increasingly relied upon in the making of decisions, particularly decisions pertaining to health and pregnancy. And yet, recent interactions between scientists and the American public have highlighted the fact that scientific expertise has become a contested, if not rejected, form of knowledge. To more fully assess and understand the state of scientific communication in today's public discourse, this thesis examines a specific expert-lay relationship: that of pregnant women and their healthcare professionals. To examine this interaction, I look at a particular website, TheBump.com, which posits itself as providing "the inside scoop on pregnancy and parenting." Through a close reading of the webpages, discussion forums, and technical structure of the website, my analysis shows how neoliberal operationalizations of expertise work to complicate the expert-lay relationship in ways that offer no clear resolution. Specifically, I argue that neoliberal sensibilities reconfigure expertise by deploying authenticity, risk, and apomediation such that pregnant women are vested with the task of identifying, consuming, and correctly applying expertise to their decision-making. I conclude by arguing that we can understand expertise in neoliberal societies as being defined and deployed to attribute knowledge, responsibility, and choice to individuals with the ultimate result of reifying and protecting neoliberal capitalism itself.
Type Text
Publisher University of Utah
Subject authenticity; expertise; neoliberalism; online communities; pregnancy; rhetoric
Dissertation Name Master of Science
Language eng
Rights Management ©Amanda Friz Siska
Format Medium application/pdf
ARK ark:/87278/s6jx2kvs
Setname ir_etd
Date Created 2018-07-27
Date Modified 2021-05-06
ID 1353909
Reference URL https://collections.lib.utah.edu/ark:/87278/s6jx2kvs