Date of Award

5-2017

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Legacy Department

Rhetorics, Communication, and Information Design

Committee Member

Dr. Todd May, Committee Chair

Committee Member

Dr. Cynthia Haynes

Committee Member

Dr. Steven B. Katz

Committee Member

Dr. Sarah Winslow

Abstract

This dissertation examines the relationship between diagnostic communication practices and deliberative rhetoric through the lens of Actor-Network theory and feminist theory. Specifically, I argue that Bruno Latour's Actor-Network Theory (ANT) provides a generative framework for tracing diagnostic networks as it accounts for uncertainty, dispersed agency, community stakeholders, and nonhumans. The chapters explore how a networked approach to diagnosis opens up opportunities to reform doctor-patient relationships, expands our conceptions of diagnostic actants, suggests ways to respond to patients living at risk for disease, and broadens our understanding of ethos in healthcare contexts. Furthermore, I also consider how a networked framework can help us comprehend how public misdiagnoses happen so we can prevent them in the future. I conclude by advocating for healthcare providers to reform diagnostic communication practices to account for the agency and expertise of non-specialist stakeholders, particularly patients. I also explore methods for intervening within global health networks and addressing the intersectional problems they collaboratively solve.

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