Defense Date


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


Public Policy & Administration

First Advisor

David John Farmer

Second Advisor

Richard F. Huff

Third Advisor

Sarah Jane Brubaker

Fourth Advisor

Elizabeth M. Z. Farmer


Science, and especially the social sciences, has developed as distinct territories, each with its own vocabulary and language-game (Wittgenstein, 1945/1958). Yet understanding and explaining science as a complex and pluri-disciplinary system has important practitioner-oriented as well as research-oriented and other benefits, benefits that can be enhanced through the use of cloud-based technologies. Understanding and explaining public policy in particular as complex can inform and transform the way problems are approached. This is particularly important for an action subject like public policy and administration that can be considered as having been influenced by many disciplines. Public administration (PA) through multiple perspectives, already in the literature as epistemic pluralism (Farmer, 2010), aims to transform PA’s language-game by increasing the imaginative nature of knowledge. The practical application of epistemic pluralism has also been established. This dissertation further extends theory to practice by conceptualizing a cloud-based tool called Wittgenstein X. A cloud-based tool to organize and make sense of public policy and administration through multiple perspectives will provide a mechanism for researchers, practitioners, students, and others to increase the imaginative nature of knowledge. The application of EP theory and practice to big data will also be considered. This dissertation conceptualizes complexity theory as the fundamental vantage point from which science in general and public policy and administration in particular can be understood. It asks: What is the relevance of understanding and explaining public policy as a complex and pluri-disciplinary system and how is this related to big data? This study is important because it offers a remedy to resolving seemingly intractable problems in PPA. The component terms of this study, science, complexity, pluri-disciplinarity, systems, and governmentality will be shown as linked in a Wittgensteinian Family Resemblance. The terms can be said to merge into a whole where the whole is greater than the sum of the parts.


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