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Journal Article

The Trouble with Experts - and Why Democracies Need Them

Michael Schudson
Theory and Society
Vol. 35, No. 5/6 (Dec., 2006), pp. 491-506
Published by: Springer
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/4501762
Page Count: 16
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The Trouble with Experts - and Why Democracies Need Them
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Abstract

Many democratic thinkers believe that the values of expertise and the values of democracy are incompatible. Since practical realities require democratic governments to depend on experts, theorists focus on how to keep experts on a short leash. In contrast, this essay argues that experts are of greatest value to democracy when they stand up to those in government who hire them or seek their counsel, not when they surrender professional judgment to political masters. Dangers of the "short leash" model are explained. The essay offers proposals on how to think more wisely about the role of expertise in democracy. The role of the politician as a special kind of expert is also discussed.

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