Degree Type


Date of Award


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy



First Advisor

Carl G. Herndl


This dissertation explores the rhetorical mechanisms of agency and regulation in the medical-industrial complex. It presents the results of over two years of ethnographic observation and interviews with a multidisciplinary pain management organization. Additionally, it interrogates two broader cases of agency and regulation in pain science: 1) the debate over the nature of the sinus headache and 2) the debate surrounding the legitimacy of the chronic pain condition fibromyalgia. Following recent theoretical work in rhetorical studies, this dissertation argues that the rhetoric of pain science corroborates recent theoretical suggestions that the exercise of both agency and regulation is predicated on structures of authority. Furthermore, the results of this study suggest that when clinicians seek change in medical science or healthcare regulation, they rely on authority provided to them by their disciplinary identity--an identity supported by the same structures they seek to change. Similarly, the exercise of regulation in the medical-industrial complex is often based on identical structures of authority. Finally, in exploring these issues, this dissertation also argues for more inquiry in the emerging subfield known as rhetoric of technoscience. The work of this dissertation demonstrates the methods and modes of inquiry for rhetoric of technoscience and reflects on how such modes of inquiry are different from rhetorics of science and technology, as traditionally conceived. Ultimately, this work argues for greater attention to issues of ontology and materiality as well as continued exploration into how those issues impact scientific and policy discourses.


Copyright Owner

Samuel Scott Graham



Date Available


File Format


File Size

198 pages