The role of experts in policy processes is the key topic of Susan Owens’ book on the history and influence of the UK Royal Commission on Environmental Pollution. This is an accurately researched, thoroughly reflected and well‐documented study (the appendix takes up more than 40% of the book). But Owens generally aims to ‘illuminate the complex and contingent relations among knowledge, expertise, politics, and policy formation’ (p. vi). So her findings are interesting beyond the specific fields of environmental policy and the specific focus on UK royal commissions. This review is thus not organized following the book’s structure, but in the light of three questions I think relevant for debates on expertise and policy in the field of urban and regional studies, too. What kind of relations may develop between knowledge, policy and expertise? How can we study that empirically? Are there useful criteria for ‘good advice’ or how can the advice of experts be evaluated?Knowledge and policy may be linked to each other through expert advice (p. 5). Starting from this notion, Owens is careful throughout to conceive the relations between knowledge, policy and expertise as complex and dynamic. Consequently she suggests approaching these relations through either cognitive
International Journal of Urban and Regional Research – Wiley
Published: Jan 1, 2018
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