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Political Science Science and Democracy
by
Mark B. Brown

Introduction

The relation of science and democracy is an ancient conundrum that continues to generate public controversy. Whenever science produces an “inconvenient truth”—as Al Gore famously calls the science of climate change—democratic governments may be tempted to ignore or suppress it. And as scientists like to remind us, “You can’t vote on the laws of physics!” Natural scientists and their advocates often argue that the power of science in democracy depends on it remaining insulated from politics. Seen in this light, it is no wonder that many believe science and democracy tend to undermine each other. But another long tradition sees science and democracy as mutually reinforcing. Democracies depend on science for effectively addressing public problems, and many argue that science provides a model of rational democratic deliberation. These two conflicting interpretations each capture part of the story, but they neglect some of the most interesting questions, which concern changes in the meaning and purpose of science and democracy and how they shape each other in particular contexts. With regard to science, most scholars who study science and democracy now reject the long dominant “positivist” view of science as a formal, logical, socially insulated method for producing value-free knowledge. The ideal of value-free science remains popular in public life, but extensive research in the social sciences and humanities has shown how science is intertwined with social values, commercial pressures, and political decisions. That does not mean science merely reflects dominant interests, as caricatures of “social constructivism” assert, but it does open up difficult questions about how democratic citizens might shape the science that shapes their lives. With regard to democracy, mid-20th-century political scientists tended to conceive democracy narrowly in terms of popular elections and formal state institutions. Recent scholarship, in contrast, shows how social institutions and material practices of all kinds may become sites of democratic politics. Indeed, as democracy has increased in global popularity, its meaning has become increasingly diffuse and ambiguous; democracy offers both a rallying cry for social justice movements and a marketing slogan for global corporations. The relation of science and democracy involves a wide range of disparate phenomena, including science advice, science policy, public engagement in sociotechnical controversies, lay-expert relations, and the technical constitution of democratic citizens, not to mention the many specific concerns associated with issues like climate change, genetic engineering, or nanotechnology. Of course, “science and democracy” is not an established field of study, and nearly any piece of scholarship might be deemed relevant. This article is limited to works that directly address both science and democracy, understood as particular forms of knowledge and politics, respectively. This approach excludes many works that would fall under the headings “politics and science” or “democracy and knowledge.” Even within these limits, many important sources are missing, and readers should consult the bibliographies of the works cited here.

General Overviews

Any introduction to the relation of science and democracy is inevitably incomplete, but a few works offer accessible introductions to some of the key historical and conceptual issues. Guston 1993 highlights irresolvable tensions between science and democracy, thus challenging the common assumption that they inevitably either support or undermine each other. Macleod 1997 provides a concise historical account, showing that the tensions between science and democracy go back several centuries. Jasanoff 2003 surveys the past half-century of science-society relations, concluding with recommendations for improving recent participatory efforts to “democratize” science. Ezrahi 1990 draws on the history of political thought to argue that concepts and metaphors associated with modern science have supported liberal-democratic ideology, but the recent growth of public skepticism toward science has undermined this mutually supportive relationship. Brown 2009 examines conceptions of politics and expertise in several canonical and contemporary authors (Machiavelli, Hobbes, Rousseau, Dewey, Latour), and argues for moving beyond both technocratic and participatory approaches by exploring diverse modes of public representation. Kleinman 2000 and Bucchi 2009 provide accessible overviews of key conceptual and institutional issues, as well as empirical accounts of practical efforts to involve laypeople in decision making on sociotechnical controversies. More extensive discussion of practical proposals for democratizing science and technology appears in Sclove 1995.

  • Brown, Mark B. Science in Democracy: Expertise, Institutions, and Representation. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 2009.

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    Draws on democratic theory, science studies, and the history of political thought to explore the role of science in representative democracy. Argues that political representation depends on scientific expertise, and scientific institutions may become sites of political representation. Illustrative examples include expert advisory bodies, bioethics councils, and citizen panels.

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  • Bucchi, Massimiano. Beyond Technocracy: Science, Politics and Citizens. Translated by Adrian Belton. Dordrecht, The Netherlands: Springer, 2009.

    DOI: 10.1007/978-0-387-89522-2Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Originally published in Italian in 2006, offers an engaging, well informed, critical analysis of technocratic responses to science-society controversies in the United States and Europe. Considers political implications of the shift toward application-oriented, “postacademic” science, and assesses the potential of increasing participation by both lay people and experts in public controversies.

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  • Ezrahi, Yaron. The Descent of Icarus: Science and the Transformation of Contemporary Democracy. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1990.

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    Shows how liberal-democratic thought has been intertwined with the instrumental modes of thought and action associated with modern science. In both science and democracy, the focus on external effects, rather than internal motivations, allows citizen-witnesses to validate public authority.

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  • Guston, David H. “The Essential Tension in Science and Democracy.” Social Epistemology 7.1 (1993): 3–23.

    DOI: 10.1080/02691729308578676Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    A nuanced discussion of three tensions between science and democracy: populist, plutocratic, and exclusionary, the last of which poses unavoidable challenges for the role of science in democratic societies.

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  • Jasanoff, Sheila. “Technologies of Humility: Citizen Participation in Governing Science.” Minerva 41.3 (2003): 223–244.

    DOI: 10.1023/A:1025557512320Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Surveys developments in science-society relations since World War II, providing useful context for the recent “participatory turn.” Argues that participatory efforts need to consider questions of issue framing, differential vulnerability, the distribution of risks, and social learning. Useful for undergraduate teaching.

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  • Kleinman, Daniel Lee, ed. Science, Technology, and Democracy. Albany: State University of New York Press, 2000.

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    Contributors in the first section present cases of lay participation in AIDS research, telecommunications policy, sustainable agriculture, and nuclear facility siting. Contributors in the second section discuss historical, institutional, and philosophical dimensions of science policy and technical expertise. Useful introduction for scholars; excellent for undergraduates.

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  • Macleod, Roy. “Science and Democracy: Historical Reflections on Present Discontents.” Minerva 35.4 (1997): 369–384.

    DOI: 10.1023/A:1004362816974Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    A nuanced discussion of historical precedents to recent calls for public accountability and participation in science. Touches on several countries and historical periods to show how the relationship between natural science and popular government has been repeatedly debated throughout modern history. Useful historical introduction for both undergraduate and graduate students.

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  • Sclove, Richard E. Democracy and Technology. New York: Guilford, 1995.

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    An accessible and thoughtful introduction to the politics of science and technology. Proposes nine criteria for “democratic design,” and discusses participatory mechanisms such as science shops and consensus conferences.

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Reference Works

There do not seem to be any reference works dedicated to the relation of science and democracy, but several encyclopedias include articles on directly relevant topics such as citizen participation, patient advocacy groups, science advisory bodies, and science policy. Mitcham 2005 is by far the most comprehensive, and the essays are well informed by relevant literatures. Restivo 2005 is more compact but also useful. Barber 2002 focuses on questions of science and engineering ethics. Priest 2010 provides a good starting point for studying how journalists, schools, museums, and other intermediaries communicate science to lay publics. Clarke and Foweraker 2001 and Lipset 1995 provide valuable background reading on democratic theory and practice, including some entries on issues related to science and technology.

  • Barber, Nigel. Encyclopedia of Ethics in Science and Technology. New York: Facts on File, 2002.

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    A handy single-volume reference work, including over four hundred entries on ethical controversies, legal cases, government regulations, agencies, organizations, concepts, people, and events.

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  • Clarke, Paul Barry, and Joe Foweraker. Encyclopedia of Democratic Thought. New York: Routledge, 2001.

    DOI: 10.4324/9780203422106Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Essays draw on diverse traditions of democratic thought, addressing both established and emerging democracies. Relevant entries include bureaucracy, citizens’ juries, deliberative democracy, participation, psephology, and representation, among others.

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  • Lipset, Seymour Martin, ed. The Encyclopedia of Democracy. 4 vols. Washington, DC: Congressional Quarterly Press, 1995.

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    More than four hundred entries, representing diverse perspectives on the history and theory of democracy. Many entries discuss cross-cultural issues. Organized into four categories: biographical, country studies, regional overviews, and topical. Volume 4 contains twenty documents relevant to the history of democracy.

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  • Mitcham, Carl, ed. Encyclopedia of Science, Technology, and Ethics. 4 vols. Detroit: Macmillan Reference, 2005.

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    A massive collection of brief articles on the ethical, social, and political dimensions of science and technology. An invaluable resource for students and scholars.

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  • Priest, Susanna Hornig, ed. Encyclopedia of Science and Technology Communication. 2 vols. Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE, 2010.

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    Over three hundred interdisciplinary entries on the many ways that laypeople learn about science and technology.

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  • Restivo, Sal, ed. Science, Technology, and Society: An Encyclopedia. Oxford and New York: Oxford University Press, 2005.

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    Over 130 articles by prominent scholars, covering multiple disciplinary and national contexts. Includes entries on science and government, grassroots movements, the mass media, law, patients’ rights, public understanding of science, and science policy.

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Anthologies

The essays in Jasanoff, et al. 1995 and Hackett, et al. 2008 sketch the terrain of Science and Technology Studies. Several essays in these volumes address the relation of science and democracy with regard to issues such as expert advice, public participation, and government policymaking. The essays in Feenberg and Hannay 1995 address issues at the intersection of philosophy of technology and critical theory, several taking up questions of democratic politics. The essays on expert advice in Maasen and Weingart 2005 offer a more sociological and policy-oriented perspective. The contributors to Porter and Phillips 2007 and Stehr 2008 hail from diverse disciplinary and national contexts, each exploring a particular aspect of the relation between science and democracy.

  • Feenberg, Andrew, and Alastair Hannay, eds. Technology and the Politics of Knowledge. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1995.

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    Grounded in the philosophy of technology, includes well-written essays (several reprinted) on technology as ideology, citizen virtues, material culture, Habermas, Marcuse, Heidegger, “civil epistemology,” “situated knowledges,” and related topics.

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  • Hackett, Edward J., Olga Amsterdanska, Michael Lynch, and Judy Wajcman, eds. The Handbook of Science and Technology Studies. 3d ed. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 2008.

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    About one-third of the essays address questions directly relevant to the relation of science and democracy, including political theory, public participation, patient advocacy groups, social movements, governance, commercialization, communication technologies, and foresight methods.

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  • Jasanoff, Sheila, Gerald E. Markle, James C. Petersen, and Trevor Pinch, eds. Handbook of Science and Technology Studies. Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE, 1995.

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    Despite its age, still a useful and widely cited introduction to science and technology studies. Essays address many democracy-relevant topics, including science and the media, public understanding of science, science controversies, science policy, science advice, and the role of science in economic development and globalization.

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  • Maasen, Sabine, and Peter Weingart, eds. Democratization of Expertise? Exploring Novel Forms of Scientific Advice in Political Decision-Making. Dordrecht, The Netherlands: Springer, 2005.

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    Contributors explore various efforts to improve the public credibility and legitimacy of expert advice, especially through public participation mechanisms or by increasing the public accountability of experts. Essays draw on systems theory, principal-agent theory, and democratic theory, among other approaches.

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  • Porter, Jene M., and Peter W. B. Phillips, eds. Public Science in Liberal Democracy. Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2007.

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    An eclectic but valuable set of essays that offer historical, philosophical, and institutional perspectives on the public dimensions of science. Topics include political and commercial challenges to scientific objectivity, the role of science advice in public policy, and the opening of established scientific disciplines to interdisciplinary and practice-oriented approaches.

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  • Stehr, Nico, ed. Knowledge and Democracy: A 21st Century Perspective. New Brunswick, NJ: Transaction, 2008.

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    Explores the relation between scientific knowledge and personal freedom, competing models of expert advice, and ambiguous attempts to “democratize” universities. Some authors advocate lay participation in science, others suggest that democratization easily serves entrenched interests.

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Journals

The journals listed here are just a few of the many outlets likely to address the relation of science and democracy. Journals focused on everyday concerns of policy and politics include Issues in Science & Technology, Review of Policy Research, and Science and Public Policy. Minerva covers diverse sociological, historical, and philosophical issues at the intersection of science and society, as does Science, Technology, and Society: An International Journal. The latter is devoted to issues affecting developing countries. Other journals belonging to the favored outlets of the science studies community include Public Understanding of Science; Social Studies of Science; and Science, Technology, and Human Values.

Disciplinary Perspectives

Regardless of the specific topic, scholars studying the relation of science and democracy generally find it helpful to draw on multiple disciplines. It is useful to know something about the natural sciences relevant to one’s topic, and depending on one’s interests, any of the social sciences or humanities disciplines might provide useful insights. Scholars studying science and democracy have also increasingly drawn on film, art, and literature. Any discipline offers a particular lens on the questions it addresses, and even the most interdisciplinary approach cannot capture everything about a topic. The studies cited in this section are categorized into six disciplines, in part to highlight the distinctive possibilities and limits of any disciplinary perspective. But it will be obvious that many of these works could easily be placed in a different discipline, and many relevant disciplines are missing. The aim is to offer a few starting points for research on the relation of science and democracy from different disciplinary perspectives.

Political and Social Theory

The relation of science and democracy has been a recurrent topic in the history of political thought (see Brown 2009 and Ezrahi 1990, both cited under General Overviews, and Feenberg and Hannay 1995 cited under Anthologies). The ancient case for technocratic skepticism toward democracy receives a lively treatment in Dahl 1989, which presents a debate on whether “guardians” of superior competence could defend popular interests better than the people themselves. Dahl lets the guardians make their case, but in the end he sides with popular rule. Similar issues are addressed in Held 2006, which offers a critical summary of early-20th-century minimalist conceptions of democracy in which citizenship is restricted to choosing among technocratic elites. Habermas 1970, in contrast, takes up the tradition of early 20th-century critical theory, which articulated a dystopian conception of science as an autonomous force of rationalization and disenchantment. Habermas shares critical theory’s concern with the societal dominance of scientific modes of thought, and he attacks the co-optation of science by military and commercial interests. But unlike early critical theorists, Habermas argues that democratic processes can direct science toward genuine human needs. Feenberg 1999 builds on this tradition, and provides a more thorough analysis of what it could mean to democratize science and technology. Beck 1992 locates efforts to democratize science within a stunning analysis of recent structural changes in the relation between science and politics, and more broadly, in the basic character of modernity. In contrast to these works’ complex theoretical frameworks, Winner 1986 focuses on everyday concerns of social justice and political participation. Winner argues that technology is a form of legislation, because it shapes our lives as much as conventional laws and policies, and so technology should be subject to democratic control. Turner 2003 is sobering in comparison, drawing on a wide range of social theorists to analyze the dilemmas created for democratic civil society by the growing prevalence of expertise.

  • Beck, Ulrich. Risk Society: Towards a New Modernity. Translated by Mark Ritter. Newbury Park, CA: SAGE, 1992.

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    Translation of Risikogesellschaft, a heady and enormously influential treatise published in German in 1986. Shows how science is both the leading source of and dominant response to pervasive technological risks. Sees in the environmental movement and other forms of “subpolitics” an emerging moral and political critique of expertise, dubbed “reflexive modernization.”

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  • Dahl, Robert A. “‘Guardianship’ and ‘A Critique of Guardianship.’” In Democracy and Its Critics. By Robert A. Dahl, 52–79. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 1989.

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    Opens with an engaging dialog between “Aristos” and “Demo” on whether experts or laypeople are better qualified to govern. The subsequent discussion takes up topics such as meritocracy, moral and technical competence, the division of labor, and different conceptions of interests, communities, and the public good. Excellent for teaching.

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  • Feenberg, Andrew. Questioning Technology. London: Routledge, 1999.

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    A clear and engaging introduction to the philosophy of technology, drawing on a wide range of 20th-century social theorists, with thoughtful attention to questions of public participation, representation, and democracy. In contrast to philosophers who fail to go beyond critique, Feenberg opens spaces for public engagement.

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  • Habermas, Jürgen. Toward a Rational Society: Student Protest, Science, and Politics. Translated by Jeremy J. Shapiro. Boston: Beacon, 1970.

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    Originally published in German in 1968, a difficult but rewarding set of essays on the scientific “rationalization” of society, the reduction of political questions to matters of technique, and the role of experts in politics. Argues that social values and technical means should inform each other through public discussion.

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  • Held, David. “Competitive Elitism and the Technocratic Vision.” In Models of Democracy. 3d ed. By David Held, 125–157. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 2006.

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    A lucid account of the democratic theories of Max Weber and Joseph Schumpeter, arguing that they see citizens as passive and uninformed voters who merely select among competing elites. For these authors, reliance on expertise allows elites to promote citizen interests without citizen involvement. Excellent resource for teaching.

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  • Turner, Stephen P. Liberal Democracy 3.0: Civil Society in an Age of Experts. London: SAGE, 2003.

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    A wide-ranging discussion of tensions between expert knowledge and the liberal-democratic commitment to equal citizenship. Topics include communication between laypeople and experts, the emergence of new organizations for producing and validating knowledge, and the decline of civil society.

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  • Winner, Langdon. The Whale and the Reactor: A Search for Limits in an Age of High Technology. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1986.

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    Eloquent reflections on the politics of technology. Includes the classic essays “Technologies as Forms of Life” and “Do Artifacts Have Politics?” Argues for replacing “technological somnambulism” with public participation in the design and control of technologies that shape public life.

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Political Science and Policy Studies

Scientists may become policy advocates, or they may try to advise from the sidelines, but in either case they increasingly play a role in the politics and policymaking of contemporary democracies. Stone 1989 develops a typology of “causal stories,” which combine empirical and normative claims to attribute responsibility for particular situations. Causal stories are often shaped by experts, and they help determine whether people will consider their difficulties amenable to human intervention. Causal stories are thus also an important precursor to political participation. Similarly, Baumgartner and Jones 2009 considers how processes of agenda setting and issue definition affect whether and how policymakers address issues such as acid rain or nuclear power. Keller 2009 takes up related concerns, but focuses explicitly on the role of science in environmental policy, arguing that the relation between expert advice and political argument changes as an issue goes through different phases of policymaking. Whereas these studies fit comfortably within the institutionally oriented branch of American political science, many recent studies take a more interdisciplinary approach: Hajer 1995 employs Foucauldian discourse analysis to study the construction of acid rain as part of an emerging discourse of “ecological modernization.” Scott 1998 draws on contemporary social theory to provide a meticulous indictment of rationalist state planning efforts in several countries. Fischer 2009 examines various efforts to democratize contemporary policymaking on sociotechnical issues, drawing on postpositivist policy studies, science and technology studies, and theories of deliberative democracy. Baber and Bartlett 2005 combines deliberative democratic theory with studies on environmental ethics and politics to explore possibilities for reconciling environmentalism and democracy. Dzur 2008 draws on the sociology of professions, political theory, and policy studies to examine the democratization of professional practice. Other relevant publications in policy studies and political science appear in the sections Science Advice and Science Policy.

  • Baber, Walter F., and Robert V. Bartlett. Deliberative Environmental Politics: Democracy and Ecological Rationality. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 2005.

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    Clear and very readable, draws on leading theories of deliberative democracy to consider the relationships between citizen participation, science advice, social movements, and effective environmental policymaking.

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  • Baumgartner, Frank R., and Bryan D. Jones. Agendas and Instability in American Politics. 2d ed. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2009.

    DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226039534.001.0001Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Influential book on how issue definition, agenda control, and different kinds of political mobilization shape policy change and stability. Considers how media reporting on expertise shapes whether issues such as nuclear policy, smoking, and pesticides are defined as primarily technical or political, and as providing public threats or benefits.

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  • Dzur, Albert W. Democratic Professionalism: Citizen Participation and the Reconstruction of Professional Ethics, Identity, and Practice. University Park: Pennsylvania State University Press, 2008.

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    An engaging and nuanced study of efforts by some professionals to respond to declining public deference by involving lay publics in selected aspects of professional practice. Following a useful historical account of “social trustee professionalism,” Dzur discusses emerging citizen engagement efforts in public journalism, restorative justice, and bioethics.

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  • Fischer, Frank. Democracy and Expertise: Reorienting Policy Inquiry. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2009.

    DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199282838.001.0001Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    A wide-ranging study by a leading scholar in interpretative policy analysis, this book examines the relation of policy expertise and citizen participation, the social epistemology of expertise, the role of emotions in public deliberation on sociotechnical issues, and the People’s Science Movement in Kerala, India, among other topics.

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  • Hajer, Maarten A. The Politics of Environmental Discourse: Ecological Modernization and the Policy Process. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1995.

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    An important study on the discourse of “ecological modernization,” which seeks to address environmental problems within the existing institutional framework of capitalist democracies. Shows how this discourse was constructed by experts and politicians seeking to address acid rain in the United Kingdom and the Netherlands.

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  • Keller, Ann Campbell. Science in Environmental Policy: The Politics of Objective Advice. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 2009.

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    A carefully designed study on the role of experts in three (nonlinear) stages of the policy process, focusing on US policies on acid rain and climate change. Argues that during the agenda setting stage, scientists explicitly advocated policies; during the legislative and implementation stages, they sought to maintain greater distance from politics.

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  • Scott, James C. Seeing Like a State: How Certain Schemes to Improve the Human Condition Have Failed. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 1998.

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    A rich and rewarding exploration of “high-modernist” technocratic state planning efforts in Russia, Brazil, and Tanzania. In each case, technocratic thinking fails to achieve its goals due to its neglect of local knowledge.

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  • Stone, Deborah A. “Causal Stories and the Formation of Policy Agendas.” Political Science Quarterly 104.2 (1989): 281–300.

    DOI: 10.2307/2151585Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    A clear and engaging discussion of how political actors develop “causal stories” that describe public problems and attribute responsibility for addressing them. Causal stories have both empirical and moral dimensions, and they often end up being defined as matters of either law or science.

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History of Science

The history of science and the history of democracy have long been intertwined. Lloyd 1992, for example, examines their relationship in ancient Greece. But academic history of science long focused on scientific ideas, devoting little attention to the cultural and political dimensions of science. The standard narrative emphasized great men and big discoveries, which were then said to diffuse through society in a one-way process of popular liberation from ignorance and superstition. Such deterministic “Whig” history of science has been largely supplanted by approaches that emphasize the ambiguous interrelationships between science and society. Shapin and Schaffer 1985 is a seminal text in science and technology studies and an exemplary study of the coproduction of science and social order. It shows how the experimental philosophy defended by Robert Boyle, against the objections of Thomas Hobbes, established both a new way of producing knowledge and a response to problems of political authority. In a similar vein, Shapin 1996 and Broman 1998 show that modern science has not only promoted liberal-democratic politics, it has also relied on liberalism and democracy to legitimate its claims to cultural authority. Porter 1996 focuses on techniques of quantification, exploring the role of statistical reasoning in the legitimation of democratic governments since the early 19th century. Proctor 1991 shows that the scientific ideal of value-freedom has long been employed for both emancipatory and reactionary purposes. Daniels 1967 argues that scientists since the late 19th century have alternated between claiming that science should be pursued for its own sake and that it produces instrumental benefits for society. Ferris 2010 is largely unconcerned with such ambiguities and revives aspects of the earlier hagiographic narrative, arguing that 17th-century science was the key indispensable ingredient among the factors that brought about the democratic revolutions of the 18th century.

  • Broman, Thomas. “The Habermasian Public Sphere and ‘Science in the Enlightenment.’” History of Science 36.112 (1998): 123–149.

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    Argues that the 18th-century public sphere played a key role in establishing the cultural authority of modern science. Also shows how the idea of the public sphere, as an arena of rational discussion and demonstration, legitimated the expertise of professionals in medicine and other fields.

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  • Daniels, George H. “The Pure-Science Ideal and Democratic Culture.” Science 156.3783 (30 June 1967): 1699–1705.

    DOI: 10.1126/science.156.3783.1699Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Traces the late 19th-century origins of the “schizophrenic attitude” among US scientists, whose public justifications for government science funding alternate between saying that science is valuable for its own sake and that it provides social benefits. Suggests that such schizophrenia is inherent to the relation between science and democracy.

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  • Ferris, Timothy. The Science of Liberty: Democracy, Reason, and the Laws of Nature. New York: Harper, 2010.

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    A lucid, literary, and polemical book by an eminent science writer. Argues that the 17th-century revolution in science caused the 18th-century democratic revolutions, and that science best supports liberty when kept free of politics.

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  • Lloyd, G. E. R. “Democracy, Philosophy, and Science in Ancient Greece.” In Democracy: The Unfinished Journey, 508 BC to AD 1993. Edited by John Dunn, 41–56. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1992.

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    Examines parallels between science and democracy in ancient Athens, with regard to conceptions of evidence, rhetoric, and persuasion, as well as the adoption of impersonal and revisable styles of thinking.

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  • Porter, Theodore M. Trust in Numbers: The Pursuit of Objectivity in Science and Public Life. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1996.

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    Shows how techniques of quantification shaped the development of both modern science and modern democracy. Examines how accounting, cost-benefit analysis, and other quantitative practices have been used to depersonalize and legitimate political authority.

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  • Proctor, Robert N. Value-Free Science? Purity and Power in Modern Knowledge. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1991.

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    A stimulating history of the idea that science is and should be value neutral. Argues that value neutrality is neither a logical requirement of science nor a single unified notion. Rather value neutrality has been a set of loosely similar ideals that emerged at different times for different purposes.

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  • Shapin, Steven. “Science and the Public.” In Companion to the History of Modern Science. Edited by R. C. Colby, G. N. Cantor, J. R. R. Christie, and M. J. Hodge, 990–1007. London and New York: Routledge, 1996.

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    A concise and accessible discussion of changing conceptions of science and the public since the early modern period. “Science” and “the public” are not fixed entities, Shapin argues, and the boundaries between them are continually reconstructed.

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  • Shapin, Steven, and Simon Schaffer. Leviathan and the Air-Pump: Hobbes, Boyle, and the Experimental Life. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1985.

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    A classic study in the sociology of scientific knowledge, showing how philosophers of the early Royal Society established experimental science as a distinctly public form of knowledge, while excluding most citizens. This conception of science underlies much liberal-democratic theory.

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Sociology of Science

Early sociology of science sought to explicate how the organizational features of science shape the production and distribution of knowledge. Bernal 1973, a founding text in the sociology of science, presents a Marxist account of how science can best serve social progress. Merton 1973, written during a world war against totalitarianism, famously argues that the institutional norms of science have not only epistemic but also moral value, and they reinforce democratic institutions. Since the 1970s, many sociologists have looked beyond the institutional context of science to explore how social values and interests shape both the content of scientific claims and the boundary between science and nonscience. Gieryn 1983 articulates the seminal concept of “boundary work”: the practices whereby social actors resolve controversies over what will count as scientific. Gieryn argues that boundary work often functions as an ideological tool to protect science from government control. Weingart 2001 agrees that boundaries between science and nonscience are historically established rather than logically given, but he draws on systems theory to emphasize functional differences between science and politics. In a democratic society, he argues, the tension between science and politics creates ongoing legitimation problems for both. For Nowotny, et al. 2001, in contrast, the differentiation of society into distinct functional subsystems, such as science and politics, is being replaced by fluid and dynamic interlinkages that open up new spaces for democratizing science. Frickel and Moore 2006 includes authors who might well agree, but they call for a new political sociology of science that emphasizes inequalities of race and gender, which are often bound up with scientific knowledge and institutions, thus raising doubts about democratization efforts. In a similar vein, Epstein 2007 explores the ambiguities of efforts by patient advocacy groups to increase the demographic representativeness of medical research.

  • Bernal, John Desmond. The Social Function of Science. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 1973.

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    A classic text by a famous Marxist physicist and activist, originally published in 1939, arguing that science is more compatible with socialism than capitalism.

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  • Epstein, Steven. Inclusion: The Politics of Difference in Medical Research. Chicago: Chicago University Press, 2007.

    DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226213118.001.0001Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Examines the emerging concern with “diversity” in medical research, often driven by patient advocacy groups and others advocating democratic norms of public accountability and representation. Shows how diversity in medical research has become intertwined with problematic claims about biological differences among ethnic and racial groups.

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  • Frickel, Scott, and Kelly Moore, eds. The New Political Sociology of Science: Institutions, Networks, and Power. Madison: University of Wisconsin Press, 2006.

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    Essays by leading scholars on the commercialization of science, science and social movements, and science and the regulatory state. The introductory essay sketches a “new political sociology of science” that draws on constructivist science studies to explore the institutional dynamics of science, power, and social inequality.

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  • Gieryn, Thomas F. “Boundary-Work and the Demarcation of Science from Non-Science: Strains and Interests in Professional Ideologies of Scientists.” American Sociological Review 48.6 (1983): 781–795.

    DOI: 10.2307/2095325Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Shows how boundaries between science, religion, and politics are socially established to serve dominant interests. Examines the cases of John Tyndall, 19th-century phrenology, and US national security policy. An influential text in science and technology studies (for a longer version, see Jasanoff, et al. 1995, cited under Anthologies).

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  • Merton, Robert K. “The Normative Structure of Science.” In The Sociology of Science: Theoretical and Empirical Investigations. Edited and with an Introduction by Norman W. Storer, 267–278. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1973.

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    Originally published in 1942, a classic account of the “ethos of science,” grounded in four institutional norms. Argues that scientists should publicly explain why science is socially valuable. Suggests that science is possible in many societies, but it works best in democracies.

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  • Nowotny, Helga, Peter Scott, and Michael T. Gibbons. Re-thinking Science: Knowledge and the Public in an Age of Uncertainty. Cambridge, UK: Polity, 2001.

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    An influential and wide-ranging study on the expansion of “Mode-2” science, which is application oriented, transdisciplinary, and intertwined with economic and political interests. The authors argue that Mode-2 science is moving into the “agora,” and thus becoming increasingly subject to democratic control.

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  • Weingart, Peter. Die Stunde der Wahrheit? Zum Verhältnis der Wissenschaft zu Politik, Wirtschaft und Medien in der Wissensgesellschaft. Weilerswist, Germany: Velbrück, 2001.

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    Examines the “legitimacy dilemmas” created by the shrinking distance between scientific knowledge production and social and political interests. Topics include science advice, commercialization, mass media, and peer review. For a related article in English, see Weingart 1999 cited under Politicization of Science.

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Philosophy of Science

By the time philosophy of science became professionally established at American universities in the mid-20th century, it had given up the political goals that an earlier generation associated with the philosophical study of science. Reisch 2005 shows that, for several of the philosophers associated with the Vienna Circle in the 1930s and 1940s, logical positivism contained an emancipatory potential. And while John Dewey rejected the positivist dichotomy of facts and values, he articulated an even closer link between science, the philosophy of science, and democracy (see Brown 2009 cited under General Overviews). But as Reisch 2005 documents, during the 1950s the pressures of the Cold War pushed the philosophy of science to avoid politics and focus on specialized academic concerns. Polanyi 1962, for example, argues that any attempt to steer science toward social purposes will upset the laissez-faire logic essential to its success: “You can kill or mutilate the advance of science, you cannot shape it” (p. 62). And as Jarvie 2001 shows, Karl Popper defended social democracy in his political theory but shared Polanyi’s failure to theorize the politics of science itself. During the 1960s, as Kourany 2010 explains, Thomas Kuhn and others criticized the positivist focus on logical explanation, and they reconceived the “internal” workings of science as social activity within a community of enquirers. But they generally continued to view science in isolation from its “external” social and political context. Feyerabend 1982 (originally published in 1978) presents an early and rambunctious challenge to this apolitical view of both science and the philosophy of science. Since around 2000, a growing number of philosophers of science have addressed the social and political dimensions of science. Kitcher 2001 charts an epistemological middle ground between realism and constructivism, and articulates an ideal normative standard for evaluating the public research agenda. Kitcher 2011 adds a naturalistic ethical theory, criticizes popular rejection of mainstream science, and expands the application of Kitcher’s normative ideal to questions of knowledge certification, application, and public access. Douglas 2009 develops a nuanced critique of the ideal of value-free science, grounded in democratic values of public deliberation and transparency. Kourany 2010 draws on feminist philosophy to argue that philosophers of science should become public intellectuals, and should devote themselves to promoting scientific progress and social justice in equal measure.

  • Douglas, Heather E. Science, Policy, and the Value-Free Ideal. Pittsburgh, PA: University of Pittsburgh Press, 2009.

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    Examines the history and philosophy of the idea of value-free science, focusing on science advice. Argues that scientists should explicitly consider ethical and social values, perhaps in consultation with nonscientists, when selecting research projects or establishing the burden of proof for empirical claims, but not when assessing evidence.

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  • Feyerabend, Paul. Science in a Free Society. London: Verso, 1982.

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    Originally published in 1978, this is a lively and iconoclastic book by a famous maverick in the philosophy of science. The middle section presents a passionate call for resisting technocracy and democratizing the funding and teaching of science, in part by establishing citizen juries.

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  • Jarvie, I. C. “Science in a Democratic Republic.” Philosophy of Science 68.4 (2001): 545–564.

    DOI: 10.1086/392942Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Discusses Michael Polanyi and Karl Popper with respect to the relationship between their political theories and their philosophies of science. Argues that both philosophers neglect the dependence of science on democratic governance.

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  • Kitcher, Philip. Science, Truth, and Democracy. Oxford and New York: Oxford University Press, 2001.

    DOI: 10.1093/0195145836.001.0001Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    A widely discussed book that develops an ideal standard for ensuring that the scientific research agenda reflects public values. Drawing on the political theory of John Rawls, and examples from the politics of biomedical research, Kitcher outlines a process through which ideal deliberators determine public research priorities.

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  • Kitcher, Philip. Science in a Democratic Society. Amherst, NY: Prometheus, 2011.

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    Develops an ideal theory of how to reconcile appropriate deference to experts with the limited involvement of nonexperts in disputes over public knowledge. Briefly discusses controversies over evolution, biomedical technology, GMOs, and climate change.

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  • Kourany, Janet A. Philosophy of Science after Feminism. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2010.

    DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199732623.001.0001Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    A passionate book that calls on philosophers of science to analyze and promote “socially responsible science.” Examines why philosophy of science has tended to avoid social concerns, and argues that the field should follow the example of feminist philosophy and devote more attention to questions of social justice.

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  • Polanyi, Michael. “The Republic of Science: Its Political and Economic Theory.” Minerva 1.1 (1962): 54–73.

    DOI: 10.1007/BF01101453Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    A classic defense of science against political influence. Argues that science works like an economic market: scientists are motivated by personal ambition and compete for recognition, which results in scientific progress and societal benefits. These benefits are essentially unpredictable and, hence, Polanyi argues, science is ungovernable.

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  • Reisch, George. How the Cold War Transformed the Philosophy of Science: To the Icy Slopes of Logic. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2005.

    DOI: 10.1017/CBO9780511610318Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    An acclaimed history of mid-20th-century American philosophy of science, showing how 1950s anti-communism pressured leading philosophers to keep politics out of their teaching and research.

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Science and Technology Studies

The interdisciplinary field of science and technology studies (STS) emerged during the 1960s and 1970s from a wide range of efforts by both academics and activists to challenge the common view of science and technology as inevitable products of impersonal technical forces. The field has produced innumerable case studies showing how science and society mutually constitute each other in specific contexts, thus opening up difficult questions regarding the possibility of “democratizing” science. One of the leading approaches within STS, actor-network theory, focuses on the empirical details of mutually constitutive relations among dispersed networks of human and nonhuman actors. (For an overview of STS theories and methods, see Jasanoff, et al. 1995 and Hackett, et al. 2008, both cited under Anthologies.) Recent efforts to link actor-network theory to questions of democracy include Latour 2004, which offers a brilliant if somewhat abstract account of the relation between scientific and political representation, and Callon, et al. 2009, which draws on detailed studies of citizen engagement in sociotechnical controversies to show how to “democratize democracy.” Another influential STS framework, co-production, focuses on the ways that scientific knowledge and social order influence and constitute both each other and the boundary between them. The co-production framework is well represented by Jasanoff 2005, which traces the legal and policy history of biotechnology regulation in three democratic states. Drawing on these and related approaches, and echoing recent work in political theory, many STS scholars have challenged the familiar image of the public as a fixed and preexisting entity that democratic governments should represent. Studies like Marres 2007 and Braun and Whatmore 2010, for example, examine how democratic publics are constituted through their engagement with science and technology. In a similar vein, Latour and Weibel 2005 presents a collection of vibrant images and brief texts that show how material things become assembling points for democratic publics. Taking a more conceptual approach, Barry 2001 draws on contemporary cultural theory to explore the opening and closing of sociotechnical questions to democratic politics. And Fuller 2000 considers how to democratize the public research agenda, drawing on an eclectic mix of history, philosophy, and sociology of science to argue for applying Karl Popper’s republican political theory to science policy.

  • Barry, Andrew. Political Machines: Governing a Technological Society. London and New York: Athlone, 2001.

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    A dense and thoughtful exploration of the cultural politics of technology. Drawing on diverse resources in contemporary social theory, from Foucault to Latour, shows how democratic government and citizenship are constituted within “zones” of technical practices and devices. Empirical topics include transnational relations, standardization, networks, intellectual property, and public protests.

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  • Braun, Bruce, and Sarah J. Whatmore, eds. Political Matter: Technoscience, Democracy, and Public Life. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2010.

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    Scholars from political theory and science and technology studies explore the notion that “things have politics,” devoting occasional attention to questions of democracy. Many of the essays shuttle back-and-forth between high social theory and discussions of everyday objects such as plastic bags, domestic appliances, and the abortion drug RU486.

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  • Callon, Michel, Pierre Lascoumes, and Yannick Barthe. Acting in an Uncertain World: An Essay on Technical Democracy. Translated by Graham Burchell. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 2009.

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    First published in French in 2001 (Editions du Seuil), draws on detailed case studies to examine the proliferation of citizen panels and other “hybrid forums” that challenge established categories of laypeople, experts, and policymakers. Such forums conduct “research in the wild,” complementing mainstream scientific and political institutions.

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  • Fuller, Steve. The Governance of Science: Ideology and the Future of the Open Society. Buckingham, UK, and Philadelphia: Open University Press, 2000.

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    Inspired by Karl Popper’s notion of an “open society,” draws on social epistemology and political thought to develop a “republican” approach to governing science. Discusses multiculturalism and commercialization as threats to university governance. Offers proposals for reducing state power, and increasing lay participation, in the authorization of scientific research programs.

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  • Jasanoff, Sheila. Designs on Nature: Science and Democracy in Europe and the United States. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2005.

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    An influential study that shows how the politics of biotechnology shapes, and is shaped by, nationally distinct “civic epistemologies”—institutionalized modes of producing and validating expert knowledge—in the United States, the United Kingdom, and Germany.

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  • Latour, Bruno. Politics of Nature: How to Bring the Sciences into Democracy. Translated by Catherine Porter. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2004.

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    A lively attempt to conceptually link the scientific representation of things with the political representation of citizens. Develops an elaborate metaphorical account of a “cosmopolis” in which the distinction between facts and values is not rejected but continually reconstructed through “due process,” involving politicians, scientists, and various nonhumans.

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  • Latour, Bruno, and Peter Weibel, eds. Making Things Public: Atmospheres of Democracy. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 2005.

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    A massive, beautifully produced volume of images and brief essays that illustrate the role of material things in democratic culture and politics. Topics range from the assembly or Thing of ancient Germanic tribes, to Florida voting machines, to Otto Neurath’s visual statistics. Latour’s lively introductory essay summarizes the underlying ideas.

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  • Marres, Noortje. “The Issues Deserve More Credit: Pragmatist Contributions to the Study of Public Involvement in Controversy.” Social Studies of Science 37 (2007): 759–780.

    DOI: 10.1177/0306312706077367Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Draws on John Dewey and Walter Lippmann to discuss the constitution of democratic publics through the articulation of “socio-ontological” issues that combine social and material elements. Emphasizes the role of affective attachments, rather than public discourse, in constituting publics.

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Science Advice

Science advice plays many roles in democratic politics, and the role it plays is often a key point of political controversy. Politicians draw on science advice to inform their decisions, but they also rely on science advice (or its absence or uncertainty) to generate political support, avoid responsibility, and legitimate decisions and institutions. And decisions about science advice often indirectly shape the character and scope of political action. Some commentators continue to lament the politicization of science advice (see Politicization of Science), but they often assume an implausible “linear model” of expertise, according to which science advice should precede and determine political decisions. More promising studies consider how to legitimate rather than eliminate the politics of science advice. Jasanoff 1990, for example, offers an early account of the way boundaries between science and politics are established within major US regulatory institutions. Bimber 1996 examines the US Office of Technology Assessment (abolished in 1995) to show how institutional structures shape the legitimacy of science advice. Brown 2008 analyzes conflicting interpretations of a provision in the US Federal Advisory Committee Act that requires advisory committees to be “fairly balanced.” In contrast to the United States, European expert advisory systems have historically tended to be more closed to public oversight, but that has been changing in recent years. Bijker, et al. 2009 examines how a leading Dutch science advisory body copes with the paradox that political reliance on science advice coincides with both scientific uncertainty and public skepticism toward science. Lentsch and Weingart 2009 and Lentsch and Weingart 2011 present a series of international comparisons, showing how national structures and traditions shape the politics of expert advice. Other studies look beyond governmental science advice to consider how interest groups and civil society organizations make use of expertise. Bocking 2006 examines the role of experts in environmental politics. Sarewitz 2004 presents a more skeptical view, arguing that efforts to apply science advice to political problems tend to increase both scientific uncertainty and political controversy. The politicization of expertise, Sarewitz suggests, results not primarily from corrupt science, but because irresolvable uncertainties and disciplinary differences provide ample material for competing parties to find professionally certified claims that support their views.

  • Bijker, Wiebe E., Roland Bal, and Ruud Hendriks. The Paradox of Scientific Authority: The Role of Scientific Advice in Democracies. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 2009.

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    An ethnography of the Health Council of the Netherlands (similar to the US National Academy of Science) that shows how the Council combines technical and political considerations to construct and maintain a public reputation for independent expertise.

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  • Bimber, Bruce. The Politics of Expertise in Congress: The Rise and Fall of the Office of Technology Assessment. Albany: State University of New York Press, 1996.

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    Clear and concise, shows how institutional arrangements influence relations between experts and politicians. In contrast to executive branch agencies, the decentralized structure of the US Congress encourages broadly useful and politically neutral expertise. The Office of Technology Assessment (OTA) primarily highlighted and framed problems, rather than providing solutions.

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  • Bocking, Stephen. Nature’s Experts: Science, Politics, and the Environment. New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press, 2006.

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    A nuanced and enjoyable analysis of the ambiguous role of science advice in environmental politics, with special attention to questions of democratic legitimacy. Individual chapters address science and ecological values, natural resource management, climate change, and environmental and health risks. An excellent text for all levels.

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  • Brown, Mark B. “Fairly Balanced: The Politics of Representation on Government Advisory Committees.” Political Research Quarterly 61.4 (2008): 547–560.

    DOI: 10.1177/1065912907313076Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Examines the legislative, administrative, and judicial history of the US legal requirement that the membership of government advisory committees be “fairly balanced.” Argues that the dichotomy between scientific experts and interest group representatives on advisory committees undermines their legitimacy.

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  • Jasanoff, Sheila. The Fifth Branch: Science Advisors as Policymakers. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1990.

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    A seminal book that examines the US Environmental Protection Agency and the Food and Drug Administration to show how the “regulatory science” produced by expert advisory bodies is most successful when it integrates technical and policy considerations.

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  • Lentsch, Justus, and Peter Weingart, eds. Scientific Advice to Policy Making: International Comparison. Opladen, Germany, and Farmington Hills, MI: Barbara Budrich, 2009.

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    Contributors examine science advisory bodies in the United States, France, the Netherlands, and the European Union, showing how different national histories and political structures affect the politics of science advice.

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  • Lentsch, Justus, and Peter Weingart, eds. The Politics of Scientific Advice: Institutional Design for Quality Assurance. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2011.

    DOI: 10.1017/CBO9780511777141Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    An unusual and important effort to develop quality standards for science advice, drawing on case studies from a wide range of countries and types of institutions.

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  • Sarewitz, Daniel. “How Science Makes Environmental Controversies Worse.” Environmental Science and Policy 7.5 (2004): 385–403.

    DOI: 10.1016/j.envsci.2004.06.001Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    A provocative argument for inverting the standard linear model of science advice. Due to the uncertainties of policy relevant science, expertise easily becomes politicized. So rather than relying on expertise to force political agreement, Sarewitz argues that efforts to reach political agreement should precede the use of expertise.

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Typologies of Expertise

Many assume that the only acceptable role of experts in politics is to “speak truth to power,” and if those in power are unwilling or unable to accept the truth, the experts simply have to say it louder. A number of studies offer a more subtle picture, and several present useful typologies. Habermas 1970 briefly presents a three-part typology: technocratic (experts make political decisions), decisionist (experts provide neutral information about how to reach goals chosen by politicians), and pragmatist (experts and politicians engage in dialog). Whereas Habermas’s typology focuses on different general conceptions of science and politics, other typologies highlight the specific issue context. Ezrahi 1980 outlines four different roles for expert advisors, distinguished according to the degree of agreement on science and values, respectively, with respect to the issue at hand. Funtowicz and Ravetz 1993 presents a typology of three different roles for science in politics, depending on whether decision stakes and systems uncertainty are high or low. Pielke 2007 distinguishes four acceptable roles for science advisors, based on both the issue context and the advisors’ engagement with policy options. Bijker, et al. 2009 identifies different roles for experts according to the characteristics of the problem they address. Turner 2003, in contrast, distinguishes different kinds of experts based on their respective primary audiences. Finally, Collins and Evans 2007 develops an elaborate “Periodic Table of Expertises” that distinguishes many different kinds of epistemic competence, based in part on the degree to which people have the tacit knowledge required to participate in a particular discourse.

  • Bijker, Wiebe E., Roland Bal, and Ruud Hendriks. The Paradox of Scientific Authority: The Role of Scientific Advice in Democracies. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 2009.

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    The concluding chapter presents a typology that specifies whom to involve in sociotechnical deliberations—internal experts, external experts, stakeholders, or the general public—depending on the kind of problem at hand: simple, complex, uncertain, or ambiguous.

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  • Collins, Harry, and Robert Evans. Rethinking Expertise. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2007.

    DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226113623.001.0001Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Challenges the common dichotomy between laypeople and experts with a typology that includes experiential forms of expertise and “interactional expertise.” The latter allows someone to understand a particular expert discourse but not contribute to it. Proposes criteria for distinguishing questions amenable to lay participation from those reserved to experts.

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  • Ezrahi, Yaron. “Utopian and Pragmatic Rationalism: The Political Context of Scientific Advice.” Minerva 18.1 (1980): 111–131.

    DOI: 10.1007/BF01096662Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Argues that the “utopian rationalist” ambition of eliminating politics from policymaking is only appropriate in rare situations when consensus exists among both scientists and politicians with respect to the issue at hand. Most issues call for a “pragmatic rationalist” recognition that the technical and political aspects are closely intertwined.

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  • Funtowicz, Silvio O., and Jerome R. Ravetz. “Science for the Post-normal Age.” Futures 25.7 (1993): 739–755.

    DOI: 10.1016/0016-3287(93)90022-LSave Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Presents the influential concept of “postnormal science,” as a way to produce policy-relevant scientific knowledge for situations that combine high decision stakes with a lack of certainty on both science and values. In such situations, scientists should consult an “extended peer community” that includes everyone affected by the issue.

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  • Habermas, Jürgen. Toward a Rational Society: Student Protest, Science, and Politics. Translated by Jeremy J. Shapiro. Boston: Beacon, 1970.

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    Originally published in German in 1968, distinguishes between technocratic (Comte), decisionist (Weber), and pragmatist (Dewey) conceptions of expertise. Advocates the pragmatist conception, which promotes the mutual shaping of science and politics, so that science and technology serve genuine practical needs, and citizens assess perceived needs in light of technical possibilities.

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  • Pielke, Roger A., Jr. The Honest Broker: Making Sense of Science in Policy and Politics. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2007.

    DOI: 10.1017/CBO9780511818110Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    A clear and engaging introduction. Identifies four acceptable roles for expert advisors, the best role depending on whether consensus exists on both science and values and whether advisors explicitly consider policy options. Argues against a fifth potential role: “stealth issue advocates” who pretend that science leads directly to particular policy positions.

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  • Turner, Stephen P. Liberal Democracy 3.0: Civil Society in an Age of Experts. London: SAGE, 2003.

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    Chapter 2 discusses five types of expert, distinguished according to their primary audiences: professional scientists speak to other scientists, religious experts address fellow believers, celebrity intellectuals sell their advice to anyone who will listen, advocacy experts speak publicly for those who sponsor them, and civil service experts talk to other bureaucrats.

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Public Bioethics

Many political controversies today revolve around developments in biotechnology, and bioethics advisory bodies seek to provide expert guidance of one kind or another. Evans 2002 shows how bioethical debate in the United States became more politically narrow during the 1970s, dominated by professional philosophers who sought to protect individual autonomy by providing morally neutral advice to government decision makers. Committed to a doctrine of liberal neutrality, professional bioethics left little room for conservative and religious perspectives. When President George W. Bush appointed a bioethics council that gave a prominent role to conservatives, liberal bioethicists attacked the council as ideologically biased. Eckenwiler and Cohn 2007 addresses some of these criticisms, as well as a series of broader issues surrounding the politics of bioethics. Kass 2005 defends the council, and argues that it sought to redefine the task of public bioethics from providing decisive recommendations to facilitating public deliberation on biotechnology. Dzur and Levin 2004, while coming from a liberal rather than conservative perspective, develops an argument similar to Kass’s regarding bioethics and public deliberation. Briggle 2009 provides an even-handed analysis of the controversy over the President’s Council.

  • Briggle, Adam. “The Kass Council and the Politicization of Ethics Advice.” Social Studies of Science 39.2 (2009): 309–326.

    DOI: 10.1177/0306312708101048Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Examines debates over the politicization of expertise with respect to the US President’s Council on Bioethics during the administration of George W. Bush.

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  • Dzur, Albert W., and Daniel Levin. “The ‘Nation’s Conscience’: Assessing Bioethics Commissions as Public Forums.” Kennedy Institute of Ethics Journal 14.4 (2004): 333–360.

    DOI: 10.1353/ken.2004.0042Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    A rich overview and analysis of various conceptions of the political role of public bioethics advisory bodies. Argues that ethics advisory bodies should not try to provide decisive answers to ethical dilemmas, but should instead facilitate public deliberation on such dilemmas.

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  • Eckenwiler, L. A., and F. G. Cohn, eds. The Ethics of Bioethics: Mapping the Moral Landscape. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 2007.

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    Accessible essays by leading figures in American bioethics, reflecting on the moral and political dilemmas facing the field. Topics include the history of bioethics, ethical expertise, political ideology, social inequality, and corporate bias.

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  • Evans, John H. Playing God? Human Genetic Engineering and the Rationalization of Public Bioethical Debate. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2002.

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    Analyzes the historical evolution of US public debate on human genetic engineering. Identifies a shift during the 1970s in the “jurisdiction” over bioethical debate: away from theologians concerned about the overall purpose of biotechnology, and toward scientists, philosophers, and bureaucratic elites who focused on supposedly neutral questions of public health and safety.

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  • Kass, Leon R. “Reflections on Public Bioethics: A View from the Trenches.” Kennedy Institute of Ethics Journal 15.3 (2005): 221–250.

    DOI: 10.1353/ken.2005.0018Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    The one-time chair of the US President’s Council on Bioethics reflects on the politics of bioethics.

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Lay Assessment of Expert Claims

When scientific experts disagree, to what extent can lay citizens make reasonable assessments of their relative credibility and trustworthiness? Anderson 2011 draws on the debate over climate change to argue that anyone with an Internet connection can assess expert credibility with respect to professional credentials, honesty, and responsibility. Collins and Weinel 2011, in contrast, argues that judging professional credentials or track record requires domain-specific tacit knowledge that outsiders lack. Collins and Weinel 2011 maintains instead that laypeople might assess the consistency, “scientificness,” and, in some cases, the evidence underlying expert claims. It also discusses situations in which experts from one domain evaluate the claims of experts from another domain. Selinger and Crease 2006 includes several essays that address the same issue, with different degrees of confidence in lay capacities to evaluate experts. Warren 1996 and Bohman 1999 are less concerned with the reasoning underlying lay assessments of experts, than with the implications of such assessments for expert authority in a democracy. Both argue that complex democracies require a division of labor between laypeople and experts, but expert authority depends on institutionalized opportunities for public challenge to expert claims. Wynne 1996 is a widely discussed essay on the cultural framing of lay-expert relations, focusing on the tendency of expert discourses to exclude and denigrate local knowledge. Kerr, et al. 2007 makes a similar argument with respect to citizen engagement exercises in the United Kingdom.

  • Anderson, Elizabeth. “Democracy, Public Policy, and Lay Assessments of Scientific Testimony.” Episteme 8.2 (2011): 144–164.

    DOI: 10.3366/epi.2011.0013Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    An accessible discussion of three criteria for assessing the relative credibility of experts in public discourse: formal expert credentials (PhD in a relevant field), honesty (revealing potential conflicts of interest), and “epistemic responsibility” (sharing data with colleagues).

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  • Bohman, James. “Democracy as Inquiry, Inquiry as Democratic: Pragmatism, Social Science, and the Cognitive Division of Labor.” American Journal of Political Science 43.2 (1999): 590–607.

    DOI: 10.2307/2991808Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    An innovative discussion of the division of labor between experts and laypeople in democratic politics. Argues that lay trust in experts is practically necessary, but it depends on effective opportunities to challenge individual expert claims, as well as the terms of cooperation between laypeople and experts.

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  • Collins, Harry, and Martin Weinel. “Transmuted Expertise: How Technical Non-experts Can Assess Experts and Expertise.” Argumentation 25.3 (2011): 401–413.

    DOI: 10.1007/s10503-011-9217-8Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Building on Collins and Evans 2007 (cited under Typologies of Expertise), this paper argues that laypeople can use the “social expertise” that everyone shares to make reasonable, if not perfectly reliable, assessments of expert claims.

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  • Kerr, Anne, Sarah Cunningham-Burley, and Richard Tutton. “Shifting Subject Positions: Experts and Lay People in Public Dialogue.” Social Studies of Science 37.3 (2007): 385–411.

    DOI: 10.1177/0306312706068492Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Presents ethnographic research on lay-expert relations during several public engagement events on genetic research in the United Kingdom. Argues that expert speakers tended to “colonize” lay perspectives, leading the deliberators to adopt relatively conservative positions.

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  • Selinger, Evan, and Robert B. Crease, eds. The Philosophy of Expertise. New York: Columbia University Press, 2006.

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    A thoughtful selection of previously published papers on lay assessment of expert claims, the relation of expertise and practical knowledge, and popular challenges to expertise. Authors discuss indicators of expert trustworthiness such as formal credentials, disinterested funding sources, and a track record of successful predictions.

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  • Warren, Mark E. “Deliberative Democracy and Authority.” American Political Science Review 90.1 (1996): 46–60.

    DOI: 10.2307/2082797Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Building on theories of deliberative democracy, argues that whenever technical uncertainty or public controversy raise justifiable doubts about expert claims, lay citizens require effective opportunities to hold experts publicly accountable. Contrary to common assumptions, expert authority is actually strengthened by institutionalized opportunities for public challenge.

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  • Wynne, Brian. “May the Sheep Safely Graze? A Reflexive View of the Expert-Lay Knowledge Divide.” In Risk, Environment, and Modernity: Towards a New Ecology. Edited by Scott Lash, Bronislaw Szerszynski, and Brian Wynne, 44–83. London: SAGE, 1996.

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    An influential account of Cumbrian sheep farmers who challenged expert claims about radioactive fallout from the Chernobyl disaster. Also provides an extended critique of rationalistic conceptions of lay-expert relations. Shows how lay citizens rely on local experiential knowledge to critically evaluate technical expertise.

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Science Policy

Modern science and democracy have been intertwined since the 17th century, and both are linked to the modern state (see Ezrahi 1990 cited under General Overviews and Shapin and Schaffer 1985 cited under History of Science). The US Constitution gave Congress the power to “promote the progress of science and the useful arts” by granting limited patents, and 19th-century governments in Europe and the United States supported various scientific academies and associations. During the 1930s, the British leftist scientist J. D. Bernal argued that governments should direct science toward social purposes, whereas the philosopher Michael Polanyi insisted that government direction could only destroy science (see Bernal 1973 cited under Sociology of Science and Polanyi 1962 cited under Philosophy of Science). The history of US science policy since the founding era is well explained in Dupree 1986. The postwar “social contract for science,” which assumed that governments should support science but not direct it (with the notable exception of military research), is illustrated by Price 1965 and critically discussed in Guston 2000, Greenberg 2001, and Sarewitz 1996. Since the early 1980s, as explained in Guston 2000, the US government has established institutional mechanisms for ensuring that its money is well spent. But Sarewitz 1996 and Greenberg 2001 suggest that much science policy today results from standard interest-group politics. Various efforts to democratize US science policy are discussed in Goggin 1986. For the contemporary relationship between science policy and social justice, see Cozzens 2007 and Woodhouse and Sarewitz 2007.

  • Cozzens, Susan E. “Distributive Justice in Science and Technology Policy.” Science and Public Policy 34.2 (2007): 85–94.

    DOI: 10.3152/030234207X193619Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Draws on four traditions of political theory—libertarian, utilitarian, contractarian, and communitarian—to examine the implications of science policy for distributive justice.

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  • Dupree, A. Hunter. Science in the Federal Government: A History of Policies and Activities. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1986.

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    Originally published in 1957, still an excellent history of US science policy from the founding era until 1940. Touches occasionally on tensions between democratic politics and science policy, but generally portrays the relation as mutually beneficial.

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  • Goggin, Malcolm L., ed. Governing Science and Technology in a Democracy. Knoxville: University of Tennessee Press, 1986.

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    Contributors explore possibilities for democratizing science and technology policy in the United States. Some advocate direct citizen participation, others emphasize representative institutions, and one author considers a “science hearings panel” comprised of scientists and laypersons. Several essays focus on military research and academic biotech research.

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  • Greenberg, Daniel S. Science, Money, and Politics: Political Triumph and Ethical Erosion. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2001.

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    A detailed and lively account of the never-ending chase for science funding in the United States. Covering the years from World War II until 2001, the book shows how scientific institutions secure funding through exaggerated promise of medical breakthroughs and tireless lobbying.

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  • Guston, David. Between Politics and Science: Assuring the Integrity and Productivity of Research. New York: Cambridge University Press, 2000.

    DOI: 10.1017/CBO9780511571480Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Provides a thorough analysis of the “social contract for science,” the implicit arrangement between science and the state during most of the Cold War in the United States, and shows how this contract has given way since the early 1980s to more detailed management through “boundary organizations” that allow scientists and politicians to negotiate the tensions between science and politics.

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  • Price, Don K. The Scientific Estate. Oxford and New York: Oxford University Press, 1965.

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    An influential argument for a division of labor between science and politics. Describes a “spectrum from truth to power”—basic science, applied science, administration, politics—that many scholars now consider untenable. Nonetheless, Price argues that “science alone cannot solve political problems,” and illuminates many dilemmas associated with science and democracy.

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  • Sarewitz, Daniel. Frontiers of Illusion: Science, Technology, and the Politics of Progress. Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 1996.

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    An enjoyable analysis of several myths of postwar US science policy, such as the “myth of infinite benefit,” which assumes that increased science funding inevitably generates social progress. Although the budget numbers are out-of-date, the basic dynamics have not changed much. A valuable read for both scholars and students.

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  • Woodhouse, Edward, and Daniel Sarewitz. “Science Policies for Reducing Societal Inequities.” Science and Public Policy 34.3 (2007): 139–150.

    DOI: 10.3152/030234207X195158Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Argues that government policies to promote scientific innovation tend to disproportionately benefit the wealthy, thus exacerbating existing social and economic inequities. Also examines government research and development policies that reduce inequities by promoting public goods.

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Public Engagement

The question of public participation in the governance of science and technology has precedents dating back to the late 19th century, as Lengwiler 2008 explains, but it was the social movements of the 1960s and 1970s that turned it into a major public issue. Petersen 1984 gives an excellent overview of early efforts to involve lay citizens in shaping science and technology in the United States, and Laird 1993 analyzes such efforts from the perspective of different theories of democracy. Renn, et al. 1995 develops a normative standard for procedurally fair and technically competent problem solving, and then applies it to several models of citizen participation. Although these works are now somewhat dated, they still provide useful overviews of key dilemmas. By the late 1990s, especially in the United Kingdom, efforts to promote “public participation” in the governance of science and technology had given way to a somewhat broader discourse of “public engagement” that emphasized possibilities for “dialog” between experts and lay people. Many such public engagement efforts have relied on randomly selected citizen juries, consensus conferences, and the like, with the aim of soliciting involvement from beyond the circle of established interest groups (see the section on Deliberative Forums). Rowe and Frewer 2000 provides a systematic comparison of the institutional features and democratic merits of various participatory and deliberative institutions. Wilsdon and Willis 2004 calls for more public engagement “upstream,” at the front end of technological development, when possibilities for genuine citizen influence may be highest. Hagendijk and Irwin 2006 sounds a cautionary note, which has become widely shared among those studying public engagement in science and technology: advocates of new mechanisms of citizen engagement need to devote more attention to how such efforts easily become co-opted by technocratic elites, and how they relate to the existing institutional frameworks of contemporary democracies.

Social Movements

Various social movements, including the antinuclear movement, the environmental movement, and the women’s health movement, have been the most influential proponents of efforts to democratize science and technology. Brown and Mikkelsen 1990, Epstein 1996, and McCormick 2009 are excellent introductions to the topic.

  • Brown, Phil, and Edwin J. Mikkelsen. No Safe Place: Toxic Waste, Leukemia, and Community Action. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1990.

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    Develops the concept of “popular epidemiology” by way of telling the story of residents in Woburn, Massachusetts, who documented a cluster of childhood leukemia cases, and then sued the responsible companies. A major study on public engagement with science and technology, and a social science companion to the book and movie A Civil Action.

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  • Epstein, Steven. Impure Science: AIDS, Activism, and the Politics of Knowledge. Berkeley and Los Angeles: University of California Press, 1996.

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    Chronicles the efforts of self-taught AIDS activists to push for changes in research protocols for retroviral drugs. One of the most compelling and widely cited accounts of lay influence on laboratory research.

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  • McCormick, Sabrina. Mobilizing Science: Movements, Participation, and the Remaking of Knowledge. Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 2009.

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    Innovative analysis of social movements that challenge dominant practices of scientific knowledge production and expert advice, based on case studies of the anti-dam movement in Brazil and the environmental breast cancer movement in the United States. Shows how movements are easily co-opted by political and economic interests.

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Deliberative Forums

During the past twenty years, small deliberative forums of various kinds have become a common means for engaging lay citizens in the politics of science and technology. Organizers solicit a group of ten to twenty participants who meet once or more to discuss policy options for a particular sociotechnical issue. Joss and Durant 1995 presents several perspectives on the consensus conference model. Horlick-Jones, et al. 2007 and Nishizawa 2005 analyze deliberative events in the United Kingdom and Japan, respectively. Smith and Wales 2000 examines consensus conferences in light of deliberative democratic theory, and Brown 2006 locates such efforts with respect to recent theories of political representation. Goodin 2008 considers a wide range of issues affecting how deliberative forums can best complement, rather than attempt to replace, existing representative institutions. Irwin 2006 and Kleinman, et al. 2011 emphasize the limits of deliberative forums, while acknowledging their potential contribution to the democratic governance of science and technology.

  • Brown, Mark B. “Citizen Panels and the Concept of Representation.” Journal of Political Philosophy 14.2 (2006): 203–225.

    DOI: 10.1111/j.1467-9760.2006.00245.xSave Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Draws on constructivist theories of representative democracy to examine in what sense citizen panels are representative institutions. Also considers how they may contribute to political representation in other institutions.

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  • Goodin, Robert E. Innovating Democracy: Democratic Theory and Practice after the Deliberative Turn. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2008.

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    A critical analysis of deliberative forums by a leading democratic theorist. Offers several proposals for maximizing their limited but significant contribution to representative democracy.

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  • Horlick-Jones, Tom, John Walls, Gene Rowe, et al. The GM Debate: Risk, Politics and Public Engagement. London: Routledge, 2007.

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    A comprehensive analysis of a controversial government-sponsored public deliberation exercise on the commercialization of genetically modified crops in the United Kingdom. Includes analysis of the design and implementation of the event, participant commentaries, an opinion survey, and media coverage.

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  • Irwin, Alan. “The Politics of Talk: Coming to Terms with the ‘New’ Scientific Governance.” Social Studies of Science 36.2 (2006): 299–320.

    DOI: 10.1177/0306312706053350Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    In light of the emerging routinization of public deliberation on science and technology in the United Kingdom, this paper argues for “an analytically sceptical (but not dismissive) perspective on the ‘new’ mode of scientific governance.” Given that the policy outcomes of such efforts inevitably fail to meet participant expectations, a more cautious approach may be needed to avoid public backlash.

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  • Joss, Simon, and John Durant, eds. Public Participation in Science: The Role of Consensus Conferences in Europe. London: Science Museum, 1995.

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    Assessments of the “consensus conference” model of participatory technology assessment. Authors include observers and organizers of consensus conferences in Denmark, the Netherlands, and the United Kingdom.

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  • Kleinman, Daniel Lee, Jason Delborne, and Ashley Anderson. “Engaging Citizens: The High Cost of Citizen Engagement in High Technology.” Public Understanding of Science 20.2 (2011): 221–240.

    DOI: 10.1177/0963662509347137Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Draws on case studies of two consensus conferences on nanotechnology to examine what motivates citizens to participate. Emphasizes the role of monetary and ideological incentives, suggesting problems with the common attempt to recruit “blank slate” participants who have no stake in the issue at hand.

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  • Nishizawa, Mariko. “Citizen Deliberations on Science and Technology and Their Social Environments: Case Study on the Japanese Consensus Conference on GM Crops.” Science and Public Policy 32.6 (2005): 479–489.

    DOI: 10.3152/147154305781779236Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    An innovative discussion of the cultural and political challenges faced by government-sponsored consensus conferences on GM crops in Japan.

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  • Smith, Graham, and Corinne Wales. “Citizens’ Juries and Deliberative Democracy.” Political Studies 48.1 (2000): 51–65.

    DOI: 10.1111/1467-9248.00250Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    A thoughtful discussion of citizen juries from the perspective of deliberative democratic theory. Considers criteria of inclusivity, deliberation, and citizenship.

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Public Understanding of Science

In technologically advanced societies, what citizens know about science, and how they relate to it, are important components of democratic citizenship. For many years, most scholars conceived the public understanding of science in terms of lay citizens’ lack of knowledge, and their favored remedies emphasized one-way science education efforts. Irwin and Wynne 1996 presents an early critique of this “deficit model” of public understanding of science. Specter 2009 is a recent manifestation of it. National Science Board 2012 summarizes recent survey research on public understanding of science, covering knowledge of basic scientific facts, concepts, and processes, as well as public attitudes toward science. It fails to go very far beyond the deficit model. In contrast, Bauer, et al. 2007 surveys the history of research on the public understanding of science, showing how the deficit model has been superseded by “public engagement” approaches that emphasize the deliberative resources of lay citizens. However, it also examines the shortcomings of deliberative approaches. Bucchi and Trench 2008 and Feinstein 2011 address the many ways that citizens actively and critically acquire knowledge of science. Norgaard 2011 is an intriguing account of the psychological dimensions of public attitudes toward climate science.

  • Bauer, Martin W., Nick Allum, and Steve Miller. “What Can We Learn from 25 Years of PUS Survey Research? Liberating and Expanding the Agenda.” Public Understanding of Science 16 (2007): 79–95.

    DOI: 10.1177/0963662506071287Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    A helpful introduction to the field. Examines three paradigms of research on public understanding of science, in each case showing how scholars conceived the research problem, the policy measures they endorsed, and the shortcomings of their approaches.

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  • Bucchi, M., and B. Trench, eds. Handbook of Public Communication of Science and Technology. New York: Routledge, 2008.

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    A rich source of thoughtful articles, most embracing an active role for lay citizens in constructing public knowledge of science. Topics include science in journalism, museums, cinema, television, Internet, health campaigns, public relations, survey research, and developing countries.

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  • Feinstein, Noah. “Salvaging Science Literacy.” Science Education 95.1 (2011): 168–185.

    DOI: 10.1002/sce.20414Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    A useful discussion of different conceptions of science literacy. Argues that science education should help students become “competent outsiders” who understand the place of science in daily life and democratic politics.

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  • Irwin, Alan, and Brian Wynne, eds. Misunderstanding Science? The Public Reconstruction of Science and Technology. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 1996.

    DOI: 10.1017/CBO9780511563737Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    A widely read challenge to the “deficit model” that conceives science communication as one-way information transfer from knowledgeable experts to ignorant laypeople. Case studies on selected controversies show how lay citizens actively and critically integrate science into nonexpert knowledge, judgment, and action.

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  • National Science Board. “Science and Technology: Public Attitudes and Understanding.” In Science and Engineering Indicators 2012. Edited by the National Science Board, 7-1–7-51. Arlington, VA: National Science Foundation, 2012.

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    A biannual survey of how Americans learn about science, what they know about it, and how they feel about it. Includes some data on other countries, and many useful charts and graphs.

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  • Norgaard, Kari Marie. Living in Denial: Climate Change, Emotions, and Everyday Life. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 2011.

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    A thoughtful study on the psychological factors that help explain why so many people, despite accepting mainstream climate science, fail to take action to prevent climate change. Combines theoretical reflections with a meticulous empirical case study on public attitudes toward climate change in small town.

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  • Specter, Michael. Denialism: How Irrational Thinking Hinders Scientific Progress, Harms the Planet, and Threatens Our Lives. New York: Penguin, 2009.

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    A passionate indictment of public rejection or “denial” of mainstream science with respect to pharmaceuticals, vaccines, race-based medicine, organic food, and vitamin supplements. Argues that “denialism” appears across the political and economic spectrum.

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Citizenship

It has become common within the social sciences to examine the diverse social and political forces that construct the status and identities of democratic citizens. Citizenship is not only a legal status that enables political participation. It is also a form of subjectivity, constituted through various kinds of power and implicated in practices and institutions that shape and constrain those who bear it. Some of the most innovative recent work on citizenship, often inspired by Michel Foucault’s studies on biopolitics, explores the role of science and technology in constituting democratic citizens. Rose 2007, for example, examines how conceptions of citizenship and subjectivity are intertwined with genetics, race, neurochemistry, and other aspects of biomedical research. In a similar vein, Reardon 2012 examines the unintended disciplinary effects of efforts by genomic scientists to involve and empower research subjects. Taking a somewhat different approach, Irwin 2001 and Lezaun and Soneryd 2007 explore the modes of citizenship constructed through public engagement exercises designed to govern such research.

  • Irwin, Alan. “Constructing the Scientific Citizen: Science and Democracy in the Biosciences.” Public Understanding of Science 10.1 (2001): 1–18.

    DOI: 10.1088/0963-6625/10/1/301Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Examines how public engagement efforts in the United Kingdom constructed a reactive and disempowered conception of citizenship. Also considers the potential of various “technologies of community” that construct citizens in different ways.

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  • Lezaun, Javier, and Linda Soneryd. “Consulting Citizens: Technologies of Elicitation and the Mobility of Publics.” Public Understanding of Science 16 (2007): 279–297.

    DOI: 10.1177/0963662507079371Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Examines the images of citizenship constructed through public engagement exercises on genetically modified foods and mobile phones in the United Kingdom and Sweden, respectively. Discusses the problematic implications of giving priority to disinterested citizens over stakeholders in such exercises.

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  • Reardon, Jenny. “The Democratic, Anti-racist Genome? Technoscience at the Limits of Liberalism.” Science as Culture 21.1 (2012): 25–47.

    DOI: 10.1080/09505431.2011.565322Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Examines the unintended consequences of several cases of “genomic liberalism”: the attempt to portray genomic research as anti-racist and democratic by empowering research subjects. Shows how such efforts ended up obscuring accountability and creating new forms of discipline.

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  • Rose, Nikolas. The Politics of Life Itself: Biomedicine, Power, and Subjectivity in the Twenty-First Century. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2007.

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    Drawing on Foucault and other social theorists, explores a wide array of developments in biomedical sciences with regard to their implications for contemporary understandings of subjectivity and citizenship.

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Politicization of Science

In everyday politics, to politicize science means to reduce it to partisan competition, thus undermining its potential to improve democracy. The “politicization of science” became a major public issue during the US presidential administration of George W. Bush, as many commentators accused the administration of distorting and suppressing science advice for political purposes. Mooney 2006 summarizes these criticisms, and Oreskes and Conway 2010 examines links among a series of industry-funded campaigns to undermine public trust in policy-relevant science. These studies arguably exaggerate the potential for science to remain insulated from politics and to resolve political controversies. Weingart 1999, in contrast, argues that the politicization of science results not merely from economic or political interests, but from politicians’ reliance on scientific expertise itself. In a similar vein, Pielke 2004 suggests that the real problem is trying to justify policies with reference to science, because that invites opponents to challenge the science. Guston 2004 argues that charges of politicization are often misleading, because science is always shaped by politics, and the more important issue is how to democratize the politics of science.

  • Guston, David H. “Forget Politicizing Science: Let’s Democratize Science!” Issues in Science and Technology 21.1 (Fall 2004): 25–28.

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    Briefly presents a series of proposals for improving the public transparency and accountability of both science policy and science advice. Excellent text for teaching.

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  • Mooney, Chris. The Republican War on Science. Rev. ed. New York: Basic Books, 2006.

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    A best-selling, polemical attack on the use and abuse of science by US conservatives during the Bush administration.

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  • Oreskes, Naomi, and Eric M. Conway. Merchants of Doubt: How a Handful of Scientists Obscured the Truth on Issues from Tobacco Smoke to Global Warming. New York: Bloomsbury, 2010.

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    An engaging account of various industry-funded efforts to sponsor and publicize research that challenged mainstream science on controversial issues, with the aim of undermining government regulation of industry.

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  • Pielke, Roger A., Jr. “When Scientists Politicize Science: Making Sense of Controversy over The Skeptical Environmentalist.” Environmental Science and Policy 7 (2004): 405–417.

    DOI: 10.1016/j.envsci.2004.06.004Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    An incisive critique of the “linear model” of science advice, which says that science should both precede and compel political decisions. When scientists adopt this model, Pielke argues, they effectively encourage political challenges to their scientific claims, thereby politicizing science.

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  • Weingart, Peter. “Scientific Expertise and Political Accountability: Paradoxes of Science in Politics.” Science and Public Policy 26.3 (1999): 151–161.

    DOI: 10.3152/147154399781782437Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Shows how the increasing reliance of political actors on scientific expertise, the “scientization of politics,” tends to pull science into political conflicts, leading to the “politicization of science.” Paradoxically, however, political actors continue to assume that expertise can legitimize their policies.

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Globalization

Globalization presents a series of widely discussed dilemmas for the relation of science and democracy. Leach, et al. 2005 includes lively essays by a globally diverse set of scholars on citizen engagement in global sociotechnical issues. Harding 2006 takes a more philosophical approach to related issues, considering how race, gender, and colonialism have shaped Western science. Jasanoff and Martello 2004 and Miller 2007 consider existing efforts and future possibilities for democratizing global scientific and political institutions. Mitchell 2011 offers a fundamental rethinking of 20th-century democracy, showing how democratic politics around the world has been deeply intertwined with the economics and technology of fossil fuels.

  • Harding, Sandra. Science and Social Inequality: Feminist and Postcolonial Issues. Urbana and Chicago: University of Illinois Press, 2006.

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    Argues that Western science tends to exacerbate global inequalities, in part by facilitating militarism, colonialism, and environmental destruction. More inclusive and egalitarian ways of doing science, Harding argues, would also lead to more accurate understanding of the social and natural world.

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  • Jasanoff, Sheila, and Marybeth Long Martello, eds. Earthly Politics: Local and Global in Environmental Governance. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 2004.

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    Examines a series of cases, from Germany to Brazil to Thailand, in which local practices of citizenship and knowledge production become intertwined with global political and scientific institutions.

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  • Leach, Melissa, Ian Scoones, and Brian Wynne, eds. Science and Citizens: Globalization and the Challenge of Engagement. London and New York: Zed Books, 2005.

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    A refreshing global perspective on citizen engagement in technical controversies. Leading scholars consider how local and global processes of knowledge production shape citizenship, rights, and identity. Contributors link questions of expertise, risk, and economic development in North and South. Excellent for undergraduate courses.

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  • Miller, Clark A. “Democratization, International Knowledge Institutions, and Global Governance.” Governance: An International Journal of Policy, Administration, and Institutions 20.2 (April 2007): 325–357.

    DOI: 10.1111/j.1468-0491.2007.00359.xSave Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Examines possibilities for applying democratic norms to “international knowledge institutions,” like the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), which exercise power through establishing classification standards and other forms of knowledge.

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  • Mitchell, Timothy. Carbon Democracy: Political Power in the Age of Oil. London and New York: Verso, 2011.

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    Shows how the global demand for fossil fuels has long shaped political and economic life in both the Middle East and the Western democracies. Examines how the science and technology of energy production has influenced state structures, popular politics, and prevailing conceptions of democracy.

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LAST MODIFIED: 07/24/2013

DOI: 10.1093/OBO/9780199756223-0095

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