Skip to main content

Experts and the Will of the People

Society, Populism and Science

  • Book
  • © 2020


  • Defines scientific expertise as a part of the checks and balances in place against concentrating power
  • Addresses a major debate in STS - the role of science in democracy
  • Presents suggestions on how the role of science in democratic societies can be rethought and publicly explained

This is a preview of subscription content, log in via an institution to check access.

Access this book

eBook USD 16.99 USD 54.99
Discount applied Price excludes VAT (USA)
  • Available as EPUB and PDF
  • Read on any device
  • Instant download
  • Own it forever
Hardcover Book USD 69.99
Price excludes VAT (USA)
  • Durable hardcover edition
  • Dispatched in 3 to 5 business days
  • Free shipping worldwide - see info

Tax calculation will be finalised at checkout

Other ways to access

Licence this eBook for your library

Institutional subscriptions

Table of contents (6 chapters)


About this book

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.

Authors and Affiliations

  • School of Social Sciences, Cardiff University, Cardiff, UK

    Harry Collins, Robert Evans, Martin Weinel

  • Historical & Philosophical Studies, University of Melbourne, Melbourne, Australia

    Darrin Durant

About the authors

Harry Collins is Distinguished Research Professor at Cardiff University, UK.  He is an elected Fellow of the British Academy and winner of the Bernal prize for social studies of science.  His c25 books cover, among other things, sociology of scientific knowledge, artificial intelligence, the nature of expertise, tacit knowledge, and technology in sport.

Robert Evans is Professor of Sociology in the School of Social Sciences at Cardiff University, UK. He has worked in the field of science and technology studies for over 20 years, with research projects including sustainable energy, medical genetics and economic forecasting. His work is most closely associated with the ‘Third Wave of Science Studies’, including Rethinking Expertise (2007) and Why Democracies Need Science (2017), both of which were co-authored with Professor Harry Collins, and developing the closely related Imitation Game method.

Darrin Durant is Lecturer in Science and Technology Studies at the University of Melbourne, Australia. He has published widely on democratic deliberations about nuclear waste disposal, the politics of climate change, contemporary post-truth dynamics, and the role experts can and should play in liberal democracies.

Martin Weinel is Research Associate at the Cardiff School of Social Sciences at Cardiff University, UK. In collaboration with others, most notably Harry Collins, Rob Evans and Nicky Priaulx, he has written on aspects of expertise, science policy, interdisciplinarity, science communication and the Imitation Game. 

Bibliographic Information

  • Book Title: Experts and the Will of the People

  • Book Subtitle: Society, Populism and Science

  • Authors: Harry Collins, Robert Evans, Darrin Durant, Martin Weinel

  • DOI:

  • Publisher: Palgrave Pivot Cham

  • eBook Packages: Social Sciences, Social Sciences (R0)

  • Copyright Information: The Editor(s) (if applicable) and The Author(s), under exclusive license to Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2020

  • Hardcover ISBN: 978-3-030-26982-1Published: 23 October 2019

  • eBook ISBN: 978-3-030-26983-8Published: 11 October 2019

  • Edition Number: 1

  • Number of Pages: XI, 99

  • Topics: Science and Technology Studies, Political Sociology, Human Geography, Social Policy, Comparative Politics

Publish with us