Making Sense of Expertise
Cases from Law, Medicine, Journalism, Covid-19, and Climate Change
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Current debates about experts are often polarized and based on mistaken assumptions, with expertise either defended or denigrated. Making Sense of Expertise instead proposes a conceptual framework for the study of expertise in order to facilitate a more nuanced understanding of the role of expertise in contemporary society.
Too often different meanings of experts and expertise are implied without making them explicit. Grundmann’s approach to expertise is based on a synthesis of approaches that exist in various fields of knowledge. The book aims at dispelling much of the confusion by offering a comprehensive and rigorous framework for the study of expertise. A series of in-depth case studies drawn from contemporary issues, including the climate crisis and the COVID-19 pandemic, provide the empirical basis of the author’s comprehensive approach.
This thought-provoking book will be of great interests to students, instructors and researchers in a range of fields in the humanities, social sciences, and science and technology studies.
Table of Contents
- A General Concept of Expertise
- Expertise in STS
- The Power of the Professions
- Predicting the Future
- The Politics of Knowledge
- Expertise and Economics
- Discussion and Conclusion
- The IPCC: A Chameleon of Expertise
- COVID, Expertise, and Society: Stepping out of the Shadow of Epidemiology
- The Challenge to Professional Expertise
Knowledge based expertise
Advisors, specialists, commentators and artificial intelligence
Supply and demand of expertise
Experts and narratives
Actor-Networks, human and more-than human agency
Insiders and outsiders
Owning the problem
Networks of expertise
Foxes and hedgehogs
The limits of certainty
A sober view of experts
Forming judgements in the face of uncertainty
Beyond the linear model
Knowledge, science, and expertise
A critique of expertise
Methodological and political individualism
Meanings of expertise
Genesis and function of the IPCC
Criticism of the IPCC: Geographical and professional bias
IPCC and public discourse: The narrative of climate change
IPCC headlines: From bad to worse to hope?
How effective has the IPCC been?
The necessary but insufficient role of epidemiology
The role of science, expertise and decision-making
COVID and climate: Similarities
Climate and COVID: Differences
The role of data and metrics
The role of norms and values
Crisis and emergency
The case of medicine
Doctors as experts
Citizens as medical experts
The challenge of AI
Journalism as professional expertise
The rise of citizen expertise
The robot journalist
The case of legal practice
Citizen expertise in law
AI applications in law
What do the examples of the professions tell us?
All-to-human and more-than-human
Governing in the 21st century
Towards a heterarchical world society?
What about democracy?
The rise of AI
A reconfiguration of knowledge regimes?
Reiner Grundmann is Professor of Science and Technology Studies at the University of Nottingham, UK. His main research interests lie in the relationship between knowledge and decision-making. In recent years, he has studied the public discourse on climate change and how scientific experts, decision makers, the mass media and the general population have framed their views on the issue in different ways. Grundmann also researches the social, political, and cultural dimensions of climate change, including the ethics of climate research, the dilemmas of scientists between advocacy and honest brokering, and the relevance of Sociology and Science and Technology Studies to the climate change debate. He is author of Transnational Environmental Policy: Reconstructing Ozone (Routledge, 2001) and co-author of Experts: The Knowledge and Power of Expertise (Routledge, 2011) and The Power of Scientific Knowledge: From Research to Public Policy (Cambridge University Press, 2012). He is also chief editor for the specialty section Climate and Decision Making in the Frontiers in Climate journal and co-editor of Economic Life in the Modern Age (Transaction, 2001), Knowledge (five volumes, Routledge, 2005) and Society (four volumes, Routledge, 2008).
"This book is a sophisticated attempt to provide a theory of expertise that defines it as a category in the social and organizational worlds. it engages a variety of literatures that are segregated from one another, which students should be exposed to. The discussions of different traditions in the expertise literature, in different chapters, serves any reader well."
Stephen Turner, author of The Politics of Expertise (Routledge, 2013), and Distinguished University Professor of Philosophy and Director of Center for Social & Political Thought, University of South Florida, USA
"In this book Grundmann offers new theoretical insights into the nature and operation of expertise in society. He combines his theoretical framework with an empirical application to highly relevant examples, making fascinating discoveries along the way. He is analytically sharp and applies his insights to cases that are highly relevant in current debates, such as Covid-19, Climate Change, or Artificial Intelligence. He manages to resolve the confusion surrounding the role of expertise in these debates. The reader is rewarded with new insights, based on a ground-breaking approach."
Nico Stehr, author of Knowledge Capitalism (Routledge, 2022) and Emeritus Karl Mannheim Professor of Cultural Studies, Zeppelin University, Germany