Policy Sciences

, Volume 26, Issue 3, pp 165–187 | Cite as

Citizen participation and the democratization of policy expertise: From theoretical inquiry to practical cases

  • Frank Fischer


This article examines the case for a participatory policy analysis. An idea advanced mainly by democratic and postpositivist theorists is increasingly becoming a practical concern. Criticizing conventional conceptions of science and expertise, theorists advocating participatory democracy argue that the conventional model of professionalism based on a practitioner-client hierarchy must give way to a more collaborative method of inquiry. While such arguments have largely remained in the domain of utopian speculation, recent experiences with a number of ‘wicked’ policy problems have begun to suggest the viability, if not the necessity, of participatory research methods. Through two case illustrations of a wicked problem, the so-called ‘Nimby Syndrome,’ the essay seek to demonstrate that collaborative citizen-expert inquiry may well hold the key to solving a specific category of contemporary policy problems. The article concludes with some observations on the possibilities of bringing participatory research more fully into mainstream policy science.


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Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 1993

Authors and Affiliations

  • Frank Fischer
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Political ScienceRutgers UniversityNewark

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