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Bureaucrats and expertise: elucidating a problematic relationship in three tableaux and six jurisdictions

By Edward C. Page


It is frequently assumed that the expertise of bureaucrats gives them policy-making power. This paper examines critically this proposition on the basis of a study of 52 regulations passed in six jurisdictions. The paper presents the material from this study in the form of three tableaux: the bureaucrat as expert, the bureaucrat as mobiliser of expertise and the bureaucrat as servant of experts. Expertise is primarily understood as either scientific expertise or policy expertise knowledge or experience of a specific policy area. In each tableau the significance of expertise as a source of influence can be questioned. Where "experts" have influence, it is because of their status rather than the content of their expertise. Max Weber himself was ambivalent about the importance of expertise and its role in strengthening bureaucratic power in policy-making is likely to have been exaggerated

Topics: H Social Sciences (General), HM Sociology
Publisher: Elsevier Masson SAS
Year: 2010
DOI identifier: 10.1016/j.soctra.2010.03.021
OAI identifier:
Provided by: LSE Research Online
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