Advisory commissions, academic expertise and democratic legitimacy: the case of Norway

This article by Cathrine Holst and Johan Christensen was published in Science and Public Policy and investigates the changing role of academic knowledge within commissions.

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Abstract

Commissions appointed to examine and propose solutions to major policy problems play a vital role in policy formulation in the Nordic countries. Whereas existing accounts emphasize the corporatist and statist features of these bodies, this article investigates the changing role of academic knowledge within commissions. It does so through an empirical and normative analysis of Norwegian ad hoc advisory commissions appointed during the period 1967–2013. Based on a quantitative analysis of commission composition and citation practices, the article finds a growing reliance on academics and academic knowledge in commission work. Moreover, drawing on different reasonable conceptions of democratic legitimacy, the article argues that this trend is problematic mostly from approaches that regard democracy as aggregative, participatory, and intrinsically justified. From the perspectives of deliberative, elite, and epistemically justified democracy ‘scientization’ is less of a problem; it can even be recommendable.

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Published May 24, 2017 2:40 PM - Last modified May 24, 2017 2:40 PM