Quasi-Science and the State: 'Governing Science' in Comparative Perspective

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This chapter shows that science and quasi-science are already largely subject to various forms of "governance," including forms of self-governance. In science, as with other debating societies, governance characteristically begins with the problem of membership and the problem of regulating participation in discussion. The standard solutions to the problem of governance in the external sense recognize the inability of public discussion of the sort "demanded" by Beck to deal effectively with science. The history of particular forms of expertise, such as the expertise of agricultural science, shows quite clearly that establishing credibility is difficult. When Leibig first introduced commercial chemical fertilizers with the backing of "science," the fertilizers had various unexpected and unintended side effects that harmed farmers—this was among the first of the science-made environmental disasters. The interesting thing about this process is the incredible difficulty and fragility of expertise.

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Quasi-Science and the State: 'Governing Science' in Comparative Perspective, in N. Stehr (Ed.), The Governance of Knowledge, Routledge, p. 241-268