, Volume 47, Issue 3, pp 220-226
Date: 30 Mar 2010

The Social Construction of Expertise

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Abstract

In The Social Construction of Reality, Berger and Luckmann discuss experts. They contrast the stabilizing monopoly traditionally enjoyed by “universal experts” with the destabilizing competition of a modern pluralistic society. “When a particular definition of reality comes to be attached to a concrete power interest, it may be called an ideology.” The current institutions of forensic science illustrate the claim that monopoly in expertise is associated with political power. Applying the analysis of universal experts in The Social Construction of Reality to forensic science provides useful insights into forensic science as a social phenomenon.

For helpful discussion I thank Peter Berger and participants in the Peter Berger Symposium of September 9–13, 2009. I thank The Fund for the Study of Spontaneous Orders at Atlas Economic Research Foundation for the opportunity to participant in the Berger Symposium.