"Sometimes there are differences of opinion as to what the data mean": bureaucracy and facticity in the face of inconclusive science

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Publication Type dissertation
School or College College of Humanities
Department English
Author Gardett, Marie Isabel
Title "Sometimes there are differences of opinion as to what the data mean": bureaucracy and facticity in the face of inconclusive science
Date 2013-08
Description Bureaucratic rhetorics have been largely overlooked in rhetorical scholarship, in part because of an assumed synonymy between bureaucratic approaches, purposes, and language uses and political ones. This dissertation applies rhetorical analysis to a case study of bureaucratic rhetoric-the 2011 U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) hearing on the breast cancer indication for the drug Avastin-to identify characteristic rhetorical strategies of bureaucracy and how these differ from the strategies of political rhetoric. In particular, I investigate the rhetorics that bureaucracies use to make sense of science in the context of regulatory decision making. Given that science is often used to support bureaucratic decisions, and that bureaucracy is involved in most aspects of scientific and medical research, the interactions between the two are of particular importance. Specifically, this project addresses three questions: (1) what are the characteristic rhetorical strategies of bureaucratic institutions; (2) who or what is the audience of bureaucratic rhetoric; and (3) what are the implications of these findings for bureaucratic institutions themselves, the public, science and medicine, and rhetorical theory? In the first part of the analysis, I investigate questions about how bureaucracy legitimizes its decisions. In the second part, I argue that one of the reasons for the disconnect between the public and the FDA is that bureaucracies, including the FDA, do not in fact address the public. Unlike political rhetorics, which address the public (and "representatives" of the public, such as lobbyists), bureaucratic rhetorics address an internal audience of the bureaucracy itself. They do so through the medium of "the record." In addressing "the record," a bureaucracy will (and the FDA does in this hearing) attempt to achieve "facticity" (the appearance or status of being taken for granted as fact) for its own desired, and often predetermined, outcomes. Thus, the primary finding of this study is that as a science-based regulatory bureaucracy, the FDA cannot allow "differences of opinion as to what the data mean."
Type Text
Publisher University of Utah
Subject FDA; Medicine; Philosophy of science; Rhetoric; Science; Technical writing
Dissertation Name Doctor of Philosophy
Language eng
Rights Management Copyright © Marie Isabel Gardett 2013
Format Medium application/pdf
Format Extent 961,966 bytes
Identifier etd3/id/2496
ARK ark:/87278/s65176cg
Setname ir_etd
Date Created 2013-11-13
Date Modified 2021-05-06
ID 196072
Reference URL https://collections.lib.utah.edu/ark:/87278/s65176cg
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