The Sociology of Expertise: The Distribution of Social Fluency

The Sociology of Expertise: The Distribution of Social Fluency Expert knowledge is an essential component of modern society. It is also a potentially difficult topic for sociology because of the importance sociology attaches to culture and context. The sociology of science has emphasised the continuity between scientific expertise and more traditional forms of knowledge. Whilst this suggests an increasing ‘democratisation of expertise’ is desirable, it also risks erasing the idea of expertise itself. This might be particularly detrimental for sociology as it restricts the role of sociological inquiry to examining how expert status is attributed rather than understanding what expertise is. This paper describes these developments and contrasts them with other approaches in which expertise appears less important. It concludes by setting out a new approach to expertise that respects the role of culture in generating knowledge but, by stressing the importance of socialisation and experience, argues for a more nuanced conception of expertise as both real and unequally distributed. http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png Sociology Compass Wiley

The Sociology of Expertise: The Distribution of Social Fluency

Sociology Compass, Volume 2 (1) – Jan 1, 2008

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Publisher
Wiley
Copyright
© 2008 The Author
ISSN
1751-9020
eISSN
1751-9020
DOI
10.1111/j.1751-9020.2007.00062.x
Publisher site
See Article on Publisher Site

Abstract

Expert knowledge is an essential component of modern society. It is also a potentially difficult topic for sociology because of the importance sociology attaches to culture and context. The sociology of science has emphasised the continuity between scientific expertise and more traditional forms of knowledge. Whilst this suggests an increasing ‘democratisation of expertise’ is desirable, it also risks erasing the idea of expertise itself. This might be particularly detrimental for sociology as it restricts the role of sociological inquiry to examining how expert status is attributed rather than understanding what expertise is. This paper describes these developments and contrasts them with other approaches in which expertise appears less important. It concludes by setting out a new approach to expertise that respects the role of culture in generating knowledge but, by stressing the importance of socialisation and experience, argues for a more nuanced conception of expertise as both real and unequally distributed.

Journal

Sociology CompassWiley

Published: Jan 1, 2008

References

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