Theses defended

The Bull in the Arena. Or: The Unfolding of Boundaries in the Interstices of the Word - stuttering, science and Communities of Responsabilities

Daniel Neves Costa

Public Defence date
July 20, 2017
Doctoral Programme
Governance, Knowledge and Innovation
João Arriscado Nunes
The last decades have witnessed an intense transformation of the relations between science and society and between science and politics. The role of science in contemporary democratic societies has been the subject of extensive consideration. This research aims to reflect on the role of science and it's knowledges not only in relation to decision-making political institutions, but in the composition of the common world, of society and civil institutions, in everyday life of citizens, in individual and collective identities and in the production of narratives of political dispute, either in the struggle against inequalities, in the deconstruction of social stigmas or in the definition of therapeutic activism associated with health conditions. In a partnership carried out with the Portuguese Stuttering Association, this research reflects on the conditions that allow collaborations between citizens, communities and civil society organizations and scientists, research units and universities, in a logic of democratic co-production of knowledge that promotes the empowerment of individuals, communities and civil society organizations through a participatory involvement with technoscience inspired by the concept of "Responsible Research and Innovation" (von Schomberg, 2011).

In this sense, this work discusses the design and implementation of inquiry devices (Dewey, 1938), which constitute boundary spaces where science and society are intertwined in the production of the phenomena that inhabit the world, and the publics connected with them. This work makes use of the metaphors of the boundary and of the cartography. The metaphor of the boundary aims to account for the spaces and objects of intersection between knowledge, individuals, collectives and institutions constituted through the collective inquiry where the multiplicity of the phenomena is object of experimentation. The boundary emerges as place of the political (Rancière, 1999), questioning the relations between entities and bodies and their distribution in the world, as a place of transgression (Santos, 2000) that explores other possibilities of translation and assembly of the phenomenon and its effects on the world. The boundary between science and society emerges as a place of ontological politics (Mol, 2008), exploring the multiplicity and possible choices in reassembling the world.

By exploring the boundary as a space of inquiry, experimentation and production of phenomena and the world, this work mobilizes the cartographic metaphor as a "boundary methodology" to map its multiplicity. Cartography as a method of exploring phenomena reflects upon the production of the inquiry's narrative as inseparable from the production of the phenomenon per se, portraying the polyphony of voices participating in the inquiry and of entities that make up the phenomenon. In order to do so, it accounts not only of what exists, but also of the possible versions of the phenomenon which the inquiry reveals and that exist as potential becoming. Cartography then seeks to account for the unfolding of effects and ontological differences that collective inquiry creates. The production of a risky account is debated in a reflection on the performative role of social sciences in these collective inquiries where the world is reassembled (Latour, 2005).

The ecology of inquiry devices around stuttering constitutes the laboratory for experimenting with these collaborative dynamics between science and society, analyzing how phenomena, institutions, publics and individuals are co-perform. This work reports on the emergence of an alternative translation of stuttering through the articulation of experiential, scientific and therapeutic knowledge. It reports on the individuation (Simondon, 1992) of new entities associated with this emergent translation of stuttering and that are constituted as collateral realities (Law, 2009): a new subjectivity as to what it means to be a Person Who Stutters, associated with a collective constituted as a Deweyan public, in turn linked to the Portuguese Stuttering Association that, thus, is reconfigured as a representative organization, equipped with an activist narrative tested in the everyday by People who Stutter. Finally, it is dicused how, in the collective inquiry, an "epistemic community" (Akrich, 2010) emerges joinging Stutterers, Parents, Speech Therapists, Psychologists and other professionals, around a common epistemic position that challenges the hegemonic dominant position in society and in the professional community of speech-language therapists. The analysis of the ecology of people, knowledge and institutions that developed around stuttering provides a final reflection on the constitution of a "community of responsibilities", based on a plural moral commitment linked to the inquiry and to stuttering as a multiple and heterogeneous phenomenon, in a context of mutual recognition and responsive engagement among participants.

Key Words: Stuttering, Science and Society, Collaborative Inquiry, Boundaries, Community of Responsabilities.