Notes
1. Democratic Prospects in an Age of Expertise
1
Giddens explains expert systems in the following words: ‘‘By expert
systems I refer to systems of technical accomplishment or professional
expertise that organize large areas of the material and social environ-
ments in which we live today. Most laypersons consult ‘profession-
als’—lawyers, architects, doctors, and so forth—only in a periodic or
irregular fashion. But the systems in which the knowledge of experts is
integrated influence many aspects of what we do in a continuous way.
Simply by sitting in my house, I am involved in an expert system, or a
series of such systems, in which I place my reliance. I have no particular
fear in going upstairs in the dwelling, even though I know that in
principle the structure might collapse. I know very little about the
codes of knowledge used by the architect and the builder in the design
and construction of the home, but I nonetheless have ‘faith’ in what
they have done. My ‘faith’ is not so much in them, although I have to
trust their competence, as in the authenticity of the expert knowledge
which they apply—something which I cannot usually check exhaus-
tively myself’’ (Giddens 1990, 27–28).
2
One can, to be sure, point to the ways that the Internet and email have
connected peoples all over the world. Some have even seen this as the
basis for a new kind of civil society. But here the arguments of those
critical of this view remain persuasive. When it comes to politics, Inter-
net users remain isolated individuals with none of the social bonds or
face-to-face interactions that provide the basis for a political move-
ment or group. Thus far, in any case, there is no compelling evidence to
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