Beyond Technocracy: Democracy in the Age of Technoscience



Why is the technocratic response unable to deal with the problems of technoscientific in contemporary societies? Certainly not because of the obtuseness of citizens or the reluctance of political decision makers to heed the opinions of experts. It is very likely that political decision makers would be well pleased to off-load onto a convenient expert – as for that matter they regularly did until a few decades ago – responsibility for deciding whether to authorize a transgenic flour or where to locate a nuclear waste disposal site. The problem is that this is no longer possible because of the factors that I mentioned when discussing the transformations in scientific expertise and its increasingly less monolithic perception among the general public.

It is not possible because the sacred aura of science as a sphere of neutral action super partes science has been eroded by the changes which have marked the advent of the post-academic phase and by phenomena such as the increasing public mobilization of researchers. This erosion is ongoing in a multiplicity of contexts, from the environmentalist movements which enlist or dispute expert knowledge to the judicial authorities. And it is also due to the media’s increasingly pervasive role in questioning policy decisions, their relationships with expertise, and their influence on the selection of experts in the public arena according to their own criteria and production routines, rather than those of the scientific community.


Public Participation Democratic Politics Democratic Participation Environmentalist Movement Political Decision Maker 
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© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Dipto. Sociologia e Ricerca SocialeUniversita di TrentoTrentoItaly
  2. 2.Società editrice il MulinoBolognaItaly

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