`This is a very fine text, a powerful piece of work that deserves to be read widely. The analysis is truly panoramic. It ranges across central concerns in the fields of social theory, political theory, and science studies and engages with and/or draws upon the ideas of key classical and contemporary thinkers, including Tocqueville, Weber, Schumpeter, Polyani, Habermas, Foucault, Schmitt and Beck' - Barry Smart, Professor of Sociology, University of Portsmouth What are the political implications of 'expert' knowledge and especially scientific knowledge for liberal democracy? If knowledge is not evenly distributed upon what basis can the philosophy of equal rights be sustained? This important book points to the crisis in knowledge in liberal democracies. This crisis, simply put, is that most citizens cannot understand, much less judge, the claims scientists make. One response is the appointment of public commissions to provide conclusions for policy-makers to act upon. There are also `commissions from below', such as grass roots associations that quiz the limits of expert knowledge and power and make rival knowledge claims. Do these commissions represent a new stage in the development of liberal democracy? Or is it merely a pragmatic device of no political consequence. The central argument of the book is that in a `knowledge society' in which specialized knowledge is increasingly important to politics, more has to be delegated because democratic discussion can't handle it. This limitation in the scope of liberal democracy threatens its fundamental character. The book will be required reading in the fields of social theory, political theory and science studies.

Filling the Gap: The Rise of Knowledge Associations and ‘Expertization’

Filling the gap: The rise of knowledge associations and ‘expertization’

Once upon a time, it was thought necessary to protect democracy against the machinations of the Dr. Strangeloves of the world who would hide their moral obtuseness or viciousness behind a command of esoteric lore. Now all sides have their scientists. The problem is not only how to choose between rival views based on access to the same body of knowledge but also how to know enough to make sense of the subject. The scientific literature is more specialized than ever, but the controversies now give us, as citizens, a better chance to make up our own minds. (Aaron Wildavsky 1995 :396)

In Chapter 1 I remarked ...

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