REFLEX workshop: The legitimacy of depoliticized decision-making
How can depoliticized bodies be seen as legitimate and be held to account? How to avoid the arbitrary exercise of expert power? This opening workshop of the REFLEX project 16-17 November deals with the functioning, justification and democratic embedding of depoliticized decision-making.
About the workshop
An increasingly complex political agenda makes modern democracies more dependent on expert knowledge. This knowledge is needed in order to run bureaucracies and agencies and to underpin and qualify political decision-making. No government can make viable decisions without a knowledge of facts, causal connections and interconnections, as well as of risk estimates of possible negative effects of various measures. Such knowledge is also needed to explain and justify policies to the general public.
The necessity of founding decision-making systematically on knowledge and expertise leads to delegation and the proliferation of depoliticized bodies. These are ‘non-majoritarian institutions’ (NOMIS) with specialized authority, neither directly elected nor directly managed by elected officials. In the wake of the global financial crisis – that has hit the European Union particularly hard and has morphed into a major institutional and constitutional crisis – we have witnessed an upsurge in NOMIS.
While indispensable, the power of NOMIS generates a threat of illegitimate dominance. NOMIS enjoy large zones of discretion, and they inevitably deal with values and policy ends – as opposed to brute facts and means – when they handle controversial issues. Thus, there is a danger of citizens being subjected to the rule of experts in ways that are warranted neither by science nor by democracy.
The REFLEX project studies this crucial dilemma for modern democracies. The project asks: How can NOMIS be seen as legitimate and be held to account? How to avoid expert power being exercised arbitrarily?
This workshop deals with the functioning, justification and democratic embedding of depoliticized decision-making. It welcomes papers that deal either with the actual proliferation of NOMIS, like agencies and central banks, and their institutional and legal structure; with the ways in which such bodies can be held to account; or a combination of the two.
Download the programme (pdf)
The workshop will take place in the 'Johan P. Olsen' room at ARENA's premises, in Sognsveien 68.
Participation on invitation.
For questions or practical matters please contact Jorunn K. Skodje.
ARENA Centre for European Studies