Citizens, Experts, and the Environment: The Politics of Local Knowledge

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Duke University Press, Dec 19, 2000 - Political Science - 336 pages
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The tension between professional expertise and democratic governance has become increasingly significant in Western politics. Environmental politics in particular is a hotbed for citizens who actively challenge the imposition of expert theories that ignore forms of local knowledge that can help to relate technical facts to social values.
Where information ideologues see the modern increase in information as capable of making everyone smarter, others see the emergence of a society divided between those with and those without knowledge. Suggesting realistic strategies to bridge this divide, Fischer calls for meaningful nonexpert involvement in policymaking and shows how the deliberations of ordinary citizens can help solve complex social and environmental problems by contributing local contextual knowledge to the professionals’ expertise. While incorporating theoretical critiques of positivism and methodology, he also offers hard evidence to demonstrate that the ordinary citizen is capable of a great deal more participation than is generally recognized. Popular epidemiology in the United States, the Danish consensus conference, and participatory resource mapping in India serve as examples of the type of inquiry he proposes, showing how the local knowledge of citizens is invaluable to policy formation. In his conclusion Fischer examines the implications of the approach for participatory democracy and the democratization of contemporary deliberative structures.
This study will interest political scientists, public policy practitioners, sociologists, scientists, environmentalists, political activists, urban planners, and public administrators along with those interested in understanding the relationship between democracy and science in a modern technological society.
 

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Contents

Preface
x
Citizens and Experts in the Risk Society
1
Democratic Prospects in an Age of Expertise Confronting the Technocratic Challenge
5
Professional Knowledge and Citizen Participation Rethinking Expertise
29
Environmental Crisis and the Technocratic Challenge Expertise in the Risk Society
47
The Return of the Particular Scientific Inquiry and Local Knowledge in Postpositivist Perspective
68
Environmental Politics in the Public Sphere Technical versus Cultural Rationality
87
Science and Politics in Environmental Regulation The Politicization of Expertise
89
Not in My Backyard Risk Assessment and the Politics of Cultural Rationality
124
Local Knowledge and Participatory Inquiry Methodological Practices for Political Empowerment
143
Citizens as Local Experts Popular Epidemiology and Participatory Resource Mapping
147
Community Inquiry and Local Knowledge The Political and Methodological Foundations of Participatory Research
170
Ordinary Local Knowledge From Potato Farming to Environmental Protection
193
Discursive Institutions and Policy Epistemics
219
Discursive Institutions for Environmental Policy Making Participatory Inquiry as Civic Discovery
221
The Environments of Argument Deliberative Practices and Policy Epistemics
242

Confronting Experts in the Public Sphere The Environmental Movement as Cultural Politics
109

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About the author (2000)

Frank Fischer is Professor of Politics and Global Affairs at Rutgers University. He also teaches at the university's E. J. Bloustein School of Planning and Public Policy and is a Senior Faculty Fellow at the University of Kassel in Germany. His books include Democracy and Expertise: Reorienting Policy Inquiry and The Argumentative Turn in Policy Analysis and Planning (coedited with John Forester), which is also published by Duke University Press.

Herbert Gottweis is Professor of Political Science at the University of Vienna and Visiting Professor at the United Nations University in Tokyo and in the Sociology Department at Kyung Hee University in Seoul. Among his books is Governing Molecules: The Discursive Politics of Genetic Engineering in Europe and the United States.

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