Date of Award

Spring 5-15-2020

Author's School

Graduate School of Arts and Sciences

Author's Department


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Degree Type



Based on 18 months of anthropological fieldwork, 35 in-depth interviews, and over 360 hours of participant observation with two specialty physician groups, my dissertation is an analysis of the social dynamics involved in antibiotic decision making, prescription, and use at a large North American medical complex in a Midwestern city. Due to the global problem of antimicrobial resistance, hospitals have been particularly interested in reducing antibiotic overuse and misuse. Though the use of antibiotics has long had an impact at the population level, physicians often advocate for additional antibiotic coverage in the individual patient. I examine a policy aimed at improving antibiotic prescribing Рantimicrobial stewardship Рthe responsible use of antibiotics. My dissertation uses microsociological methods to explain physician communication and decision making surrounding antibiotic use. I argue that antibiotic prescribing is a collective practice, and thus policies aimed at improving antibiotic prescribing in individual physicians miss the mark of what is actually happening with antibiotics in hospital settings. I propose a glance at the diverse factors influencing antibiotic use including the fearful affects surrounding the spread of contagion in the United States. Against a backdrop of academic precarity in the social sciences and humanities, this work attempts to balance the sanctity of anthropological work with the opportunity and power of medical settings in the United States.


English (en)

Chair and Committee

Bradley Stoner

Committee Members

Talia Dan-Cohen, Rebecca Lester, Glenn Stone, Julia Szymczak,