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Experts and Expertise in Science and Technology in Europe since the 1960s

Organized civil Society, Democracy and Political Decision-making


Edited By Christine Bouneau and David Burigana

Do the politicians actually take decisions, or rather the experts do it in their place? In other words, it is a matter of understanding whether the political stakeholders/representatives simply approve the final stage of a decision procedure led by the experts they have delegated, since they lack cognitive skills or because the experts do not try enough to explicit potentials and risks involved. Here lays the possible loss of democratic legitimacy in the decision-making process. This brings into question the responsibility of a ruling class to which the political representatives and secondarily the experts belong.

This book analyses the interplay of these different actors in the political relations among States since the 1960s: this interaction capability becomes a key factor for the international accountability of a country, and above all for the democratic reliability of its decision-making process. Then we have to consider the role of the organized civil society.

In that way, expertise provides the basis for the mediation among the States, and then expertise goes for the legitimacy of power practices in all parties engaged, and in the decision-making process inside the democratic arenas.

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Expert Cultures and Infrastructural Globalism. Socialist Experts under Restricted Internationalism (Doubravka Olšáková)


Expert Cultures and Infrastructural Globalism

Socialist Experts under Restricted Internationalism

Doubravka Olšáková

Institute for Contemporary History, Academy of Sciences of the Czech Republic, Prague

In the increasingly globalised environment of the second half of the twentieth century, expert knowledge and its support became a basic factor which characterised and shaped the nature and the dynamics of the system in both the Eastern and the Western Bloc. In the transnational environment of the two blocs, expert knowledge stimulated the evolution of both systems. In Western Europe, this process drew on liberal traditions, while in the East, it was based on updated mechanism of “sovietisation” based on classical center-periphery approach to knowledge transfer known, for instance, from colonial history.1 While John Krige speaks and writes about a post-war “Americanisation” of Western Europe and S. N. Eisenstadt speaks about a “Westernization,” post-1989 historiography applies to Eastern Europe the term “Sovietisation”.2 Yet while the symmetry←53 | 54→ of the two approaches is rather illusory, in both cases we can trace a gradual crystallisation of different types of systems aimed at planning, coordinating or controlling science and technology in different political regimes. This went hand in hand with the creation and establishment of specific expert cultures and their strategies for negotiating or enforcing their own goals in the increasingly globalised world. Interestingly, the increase in domestic and international political problems and tensions led in both systems, despite their different ideological backgrounds, to the emergence of...

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