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“Discourses, Coalitions, and Durable Identities: Narratives of lawmaking and regulation of clinical trials in Costa Rica” by Deon Claiborne

April 30, 2018 @ 10:00 am - 12:00 pm

Please join us for the dissertation defense of “Discourses, Coalitions, and Durable Identities: Narratives of lawmaking and regulation of clinical trials in Costa Rica” by Deon Claiborne on Monday, April 30th, 2018 from 10:00-12:00 pm in 454 Baker Hall.


For over four decades, Costa Rica had been an increasingly attractive location for clinical research sponsored by foreign governments and multinational pharmaceutical companies. However, in 2010 the Constitutional Court handed down a decision to suspend interventional medical research which resulted in the loss of over 200 jobs and a professional brain drain, as physician/researchers left the country to continue their work in clinical research. For four years, opposing coalitions and elected officials debated on the legislative floor and in newspaper opinion pieces on what a new law would need to sufficiently regulate clinical research in the country. Both coalitions engaged in strategic use of the media to reinforce their policy perspectives and core beliefs about whether and/or how clinical research should be regulated within Costa Rica and in 2014 a national law was passed to regulate clinical research in the country. Clinical trials could go forward again.

This dissertation utilizes ethnographic methods and discourse analysis to trace the growth of these two local coalitions and their strategies for changing policy on the regulation of clinical research as illustrated in opinion pieces in print articles and government documents at different points across a forty-year period. Further, this research illustrates the effects of policy coalition narratives on the livelihoods of those working in clinical research as well as the economic and medical knowledge losses to the country. Employing a qualitative approach to the Narrative Policy Framework Model often used in public policy analysis highlights the ways in which consistent policy narratives shape coalition beliefs, and the durable identities of both the coalitions and the individuals within each coalition.

I argue that the lawmaking process can have an unforeseen impact on the livelihoods and lived experience of people engaged in this process. In the case of clinical research, this process illuminates the tensions between the global marketplace and the local governing system. By understanding how such narratives can shape individuals and their approaches to policy, we can better understand how individuals and governments define their roles in an ever-increasing global marketplace.


April 30, 2018
10:00 am - 12:00 pm
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454 Baker Hall

United States

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Department of Anthropology