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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 27402-6170

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), 2005-2006 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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