Introduction: Pluralist Democracy, Populism and Expertise

  • Harry CollinsEmail author
  • Robert Evans
  • Darrin Durant
  • Martin Weinel


The rise of populism in the West has led to attacks on scientific expertise. We explain populism through its contrast with pluralist democracy and explain why populists attack scientific expertise. Populism treats the losers at the ballot box and anyone who stands in the way of the government, including scientific experts, as traitors. In contrast, pluralist democracy accommodates minority views by limiting the power of government with ‘checks and balances’. Contemporary science and technology studies (STS) erodes the cultural importance of scientific expertise and unwittingly supports the rise of populism. STS must re-think the justification of scientific expertise and its role in society without sacrificing its deep insights into the social nature of science; it should no longer simply celebrate the erosion of sciences cultural pre-eminence.


Populism Pluralist democracy Scientific expertise Checks and balances Science and technology studies (STS) 


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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2020

Authors and Affiliations

  • Harry Collins
    • 1
    Email author
  • Robert Evans
    • 1
  • Darrin Durant
    • 2
  • Martin Weinel
    • 1
  1. 1.School of Social SciencesCardiff UniversityCardiffUK
  2. 2.Historical & Philosophical StudiesUniversity of MelbourneMelbourneAustralia

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