A Pluralistic Approach to Interactional Expertise
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The concept of interactional expertise – characterized by sociologists Harry Collins and Robert Evans as the ability to speak the language of a discipline without the corresponding ability to practice – can serve as a powerful way of breaking down expert/non-expert dichotomies and providing a role for new voices in specialist communities. However, in spite of the vast uptake of this concept and its potential to fruitfully address many important issues related to scientific expertise, there has been surprisingly little critical analysis of it. We seek to remedy this situation by considering potential benefits of interactional expertise and the ways in which the current conception can – and cannot – realize those benefits. In particular, we argue that interactional expertise hasn't reached its full potential for addressing who ought to be involved in scientific research and decision-making, largely owing to an unnecessarily restrictive way of operationalizing the concept. In its place, we offer a broader, more pluralistic account of interactional expertise – one that is in line with the original spirit of the concept, but also captures the diversity that we see as being an important aspect of interactional experts and the value they can bring to the table.
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Kathryn S. Plaisance, Eric B. Kennedy (2014). A Pluralistic Approach to Interactional Expertise. UWSpace. http://hdl.handle.net/10012/16041
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