Degree Type


Date of Award


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy



First Advisor

David R. Russell


In this dissertation, through three articles, I explore rhetorical contestation of disputed organizational and ontological categories. In the first article, I analyze connections between some categories of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) involving conflicting interpretations on the part of the two organizations and issues of structure, agency, and power in the two organizations as they responded to Hurricane Katrina. In the second and the third articles, I explore ontological categories of science and non-science in a boundary-work dispute (Gieryn, 1983; Taylor, 1996) at Iowa State University between proponents of teaching only evolution and proponents of teaching Intelligent Design as well. My analysis of DHS and FEMA's disputed categories shows a shift in organizational power unaccounted for by previous rhetorical studies. Specifically, legitimated or dominant categories (Giddens, 1984) of DHS came to be delegitimated through kairotic agency (Herndl & Licona, 2007) of a FEMA agent and unintended consequences (Giddens, 1984) of these categories. In the first article involving the debate at Iowa State, I show how the main rhetorical basis for boundary-work between evolution and its opponents has changed from Popper's falsification theory to methodological naturalism. The change throws light on rhetorical core of these disputes and provides an illustration of science as an institutional category (Kinsella, 2005). In the second article, I explore a relatively underexplored basis for boundary-work--academic freedom--in a relatively underexplored setting--higher education. My analysis suggests that differences in academic freedom in settings of public schools and higher education are key to different boundary-work by proponents and opponents of evolution in these two types of settings.


Copyright Owner

Anish Mukundbhai Dave



Date Available


File Format


File Size

204 pages