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SOCL930: Policy, Publics and Expertise
Module Convenor: David Tyfield
Please note this is a condensed module given over three weeks.
On successful completion of this module students should be able to:
What is the proper role of knowledge and expertise in politics? And whose knowledge and expertise matters? Since Plato argued in The Republic that society is best ruled by wise philosopher-kings, these have been key questions. But in a globalizing, knowledge society increasingly characterised by dispersed communication channels and social media, they assume an unprecedented importance. In this module we will continue this debate, drawing on a range of theoretical resources in the social and historical sciences and a number of contemporary examples, from science, technology, environment and media studies. In what should be lively and interactive seminar-based sessions, students will develop a thorough grounding in a distinctive, ‘Lancaster’ approach to understanding the mediated interaction of knowledge and policymaking. The module will introduce the last 30 years of debates regarding expert knowledge and lay understanding in relation to policy making, and how new ways of thinking about policy (for science and technology in the first instance) are beginning to inform broader policy processes and experiments in the governance of today’s highly technoscientific societies. Sessions are organised into two hour seminars, incorporating an introductory and interruptible lecture together with discussion of a key reading, led by a student presentation.
Indicative list of topics:
One research essay of up to 5,000 words.
Brown, Mark B. (2009) Science in Democracy: Expertise, Institutions & Representation, Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.
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