“Collins, Evans, Durant, and Weinel set out convincingly, in crystal clear language, why democracies need experts and expert knowledge. They make a rock solid case for the necessity of communities of experts in democratic societies and for the value of esoteric knowledge developed and nurtured within these communities. In doing so, they strike a blow against the current rise of populism in the political arena and against theories in Science & Technology Studies that treat expert knowledge as undermining of democratic agency. This book brings the ‘Third Wave’ studies of expertise and experience to bear in an impressive way on central problems of political theory that are also matters of urgent public concern as democracies turn toward populism and authoritarianism.”
- Charles Thorpe, Professor, Sociology and Science Studies, University of California, San Diego, USA
The rise of populism in the West has led to attacks on the legitimacy of scientific expertise in political decision making. This book explores the differences between populism and pluralist democracy and their relationship with science. Pluralist democracy is characterised by respect for minority choices and a system of checks and balances that prevents power being concentrated in one group, while populism treats minorities as traitorous so as to concentrate power in the government. The book argues that scientific expertise – and science more generally -- should be understood as one of the checks and balances in pluralist democracies. It defends science as ‘craftwork with integrity’ and shows how its crucial role in democratic societies can be rethought and that it must be publicly explained. This book will be of value to scholars and practitioners working across STS as well as to anyone interested in decoding the populist agenda against science.
Harry Collins is Distinguished Research Professor at Cardiff University, UK.
Robert Evans is Professor of Sociology in the School of Social Sciences at Cardiff University, UK.
Darrin Durant is Lecturer in Science and Technology Studies at the University of Melbourne, Australia.
Martin Weinel is Research Associate at the Cardiff School of Social Sciences at Cardiff University, UK.