Prof Mike Lynch (Professor of Science and Technology Studies, Cornell University)
Organised byESRC Genomics Policy and Research Forum
VenueESRC Genomics Policy and Research ForumThe University of EdinburghCollege of Humanities and Social ScienceSt John's LandHolyrood RoadEdinburgh EH8 8AQ
Expertise has become a current topic of interest and debate in science & technology studies (STS). Expertise presents a classic political problem for so-called liberal democracies, since it is associated with privileged knowledge and opinion on matters of general concern, and cannot be distributed freely through the body politic. STS research and theorizing tends to accomplish (if only in the imagination) a kind of leveling of expertise, by questioning the grounds of expert knowledge and identifying instances in which 'lay experts' successfully contest official expert determinations and pronouncements. In their book, Rethinking Expertise, Collins & Evans buck this trend with a realist view of expertise and an effort to demarcate expertise on social grounds. Though their conception of expertise holds some attractions, it presupposes a narrow model of expertise which is strangely a-sociological.