Volume 3

Expertise at the ‘deliberative Turn’: Multiple Publics and the Social Distribution of Technoscientific Expertise

Shiju Sam Varughese
Assistant Professor, Centre for Studies in Science, Technology and Innovation Policy, School of Social Sciences, Central University of Gujarat, Gandhinagar

Published 2023-09-02


  • Bt Brinjal, Kudankulam, Mode Ii Knowledge, Multiple Publics, People’s Movement Against Nuclear Energy (pmane), Public Engagement With Science And Technology, Transgenic Crops

How to Cite

Sam Varughese, S. (2023). Expertise at the ‘deliberative Turn’: Multiple Publics and the Social Distribution of Technoscientific Expertise. DIALOGUE: Science, Scientists and Society, 3, 1–21. Retrieved from https://dialogue.ias.ac.in/index.php/dialogue/article/view/39


The scholarly debate on technical expertise in the context of the changing configuration of science is largely informed by the empirical contexts of the west, and a transition of the meanings and practices of expertise towards a more socially distributed and contextdependent form has been identified. In the context of public controversies over technoscientific projects, it is generally argued that expertise becomes more diffused among the citizen-publics who actively participate in the deliberation, and official expert advice is challenged and renegotiated in the process. What crisis does this changed scenario at the ‘deliberative turn’ in public engagement with science and technology create for the governance of technoscientific projects in India? The paper looks at how expertise is understood and employed in two technoscientific controversies — the public debate on the environmental release of Bt brinjal and the commissioning of nuclear power plants at Kudankulam, Tamil Nadu. The study contends that there are more democratic and technically and politically robust alternative modes of technoscientific decision making envisaged by social movements. Unfortunately, these alternative democratic imaginations are not taken seriously by the state-technoscience duo in India. The contrasting meanings and distribution of expertise during the public controversies in focus, the paper argues, are to be understood in relation to the political contract between the neoliberal state and technoscience, and the techniques of governmentality employed to manage different publics.


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