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Nanotoxicartography: Rhetorically Mapping Public Engagement With Nanotechnology's Promises &Perils Roy Schwartzman, Ph.D. Professor of Communication Studies.

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Presentation on theme: "Nanotoxicartography: Rhetorically Mapping Public Engagement With Nanotechnology's Promises &Perils Roy Schwartzman, Ph.D. Professor of Communication Studies."— Presentation transcript:

1 Nanotoxicartography: Rhetorically Mapping Public Engagement With Nanotechnology's Promises &Perils Roy Schwartzman, Ph.D. Professor of Communication Studies Affiliate, School for Nanoscience & Nanoengineering VP, Association for the Rhetoric of Science & Technology Communication Studies Dept. 109 Ferguson Bldg. University of North Carolina at Greensboro Greensboro, NC

2 Approach Rhetorical/cultural criticism Critical-interpretive (hermeneutical) Textual data From Nazis to nano – Paradigmatic example of rhetorically crafted risk – Calls into question complex relationships between science, public policy, & audiences 2Schwartzman, Nanotoxicartography

3 Rhetorical Topography Berube (2007) calls for “a roadmap to help in composing a risk dialogue with laypersons on nanotechnology.” Rather than discuss specific formulations of this dialogue…under what conditions could meaningful discursive engagements could occur? 3Schwartzman, Nanotoxicartography

4 Nanonarratives Exemplars of intuitive toxicology in action Narrative logic (story grammar) Internal narrative texture: relationships among narrative components—framing as relationships and alignments among characters and narrators Synchronic intertextual relationships, e.g.: – Competing narratives (x vs. y) – Subsumptive narratives (x contains y) Diachronic dimensions, e.g., evolution of personae (aggregate characterizations of nano disaggregating according to applications) 4Schwartzman, Nanotoxicartography

5 Trust Ethos Credibility operates on two levels – Source credibility (who tells the story) – Credibility of narrative personae (judgments about narratively constructed characters) Dimensions of ethos (receiver-based construct) – Competence – Trustworthiness Individual (“expert”) Institutional/collective (“epistemic”) 5Schwartzman, Nanotoxicartography

6 Richer Topography of Ethos Additional dimensions – Caring (Aristotle: goodwill) – Immediacy (builds affinity) [cf. scholarship of teaching & learning] – Moral concerns (e.g., accountability) that mediate independent variables 6Schwartzman, Nanotoxicartography

7 Ventria Case Study 7 Partnership Ventria Biosciences partnership with Northwest Missouri State University (Maryville, MO), Plan “Biopharming” center to grow genetically modified crops for pharmaceutical products in Missouri (rejected) and North Carolina (implemented) Policy MOU signed, sows seeds of dread $20M+ funding request in legislature Stasis Key turning point: Anheuser-Busch takes stand against research center Schwartzman, Nanotoxicartography

8 Cross-Contamination Crucible “Discursive framing tools”—e.g., stories, metaphors, jargon, and invocations of tradition (Deetz, Tracy, & Simpson, 2000) Scenario: birds carry genetically engineered seeds, drop on non-modified fields Response: call in the Bird Man to rebut risk probability 8Schwartzman, Nanotoxicartography

9 Ventria Case Study (contd.) Conflicting institutional personae Ventria & NWMSUAnheuser-Busch Economic driver (hypothetical)Economic driver (empirical) Knowledge generator (poorly understood, invisible particles) Pleasure generator (tangible, familiar product) Entrepreneurial innovatorGuardian of tradition Promise of pro-social benefits (pharmaceuticals) Protector of purity 9Schwartzman, Nanotoxicartography

10 Ventria Case Implications Presence trumps probability What builds presence? (cf. Perelman & Olbrechts-Tyteca) – Vividness (not coextensive with quantifiable severity) – Salience (cf. Witte on fear appeals) Schwartzman, Nanotoxicartography10

11 Challenges for Ethos Confluences of institutions: how to isolate institutional identity in judging expertise? (parallels ambiguities about who constitutes stakeholders) Who assigns institutional identity? New nanocenter example: – Universities : knowledge generators, product innovators, economic drivers – Community neighbors : economically impacted (property values, jobs, infrastructure), potential end users, hazard exposure guinea pigs – Politicos as trustees for public, glory hounds – Investors: greed for profits, community benefactors (jobs, infrastructure development) 11Schwartzman, Nanotoxicartography

12 Challenges in Constructing Nanonarratives Preserving doomsday scenarios by refutation Paradox of novelty/familiarity (Kuhn’s “essential tension,” Dupuy’s “double language” of science) Paradox of substance: nanoparticle properties & behaviors discontinuous with their macro counterparts (also creates regulatory conundrums) Schwartzman, Nanotoxicartography12

13 Ramifications 1.Need to enrich vocabularies and methods of deliberative engagement – Providing accurate information may not be enough without expanding resources for deliberation Example: “Agonistic heuristic” reframes non- or pre- consensual scientific findings as winner-take-all fight within a fragmented scientific community (e.g., media coverage of US presidential election) – How to communicate warrants for claims that enable evaluations of argument quality? 13Schwartzman, Nanotoxicartography

14 Ramifications (contd.) 2.Address ways to correct for power asymmetries and discursive misalignments – Beware banking models of deliberation & public engagement (Friere) – Examine vestiges of scientism, embrace mutual discursive obligations (esp. listening) – What does the construction of a message say about the nature of the relationship between source and receiver? Schwartzman, Nanotoxicartography14

15 Ramifications (contd.) 3.Embrace risk construction Intuitive toxicology becomes manifested in value-laden narratives, often serving as explanatory myths. Schwartzman, Nanotoxicartography15 Risk ConstructionRisk Perception ActivePassive DynamicStatic Participant in risk formulationObserver or victim

16 Ramifications (contd.) 4.Activate communication theories to illuminate risk-related heuristics A.Anxiety & uncertainty management (AUM): coping with the radical “Other” (e.g., Gudykunst) B.Critical management theory: moving from public input to public partnerships (e.g., Deetz, George Cheney) C.Does structure of deliberative forums search for Holy Grail of universal pragmatics? (Habermas) Schwartzman, Nanotoxicartography16

17 A Few Symptoms to Address: Chronicle of a Conversation with a Nano Center Director When we communicate with the public, we must “dumb down” our research. Cut directly to the benefits: “We will get your cell phone to hold its charge longer.” (or “Read my lips: no new risks”?) The encounter between nanocenter advocates and the community is “at a stalemate.” “I’m an engineering geek. I don’t do public policy.” Schwartzman, Nanotoxicartography17

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