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Developing a public sociology: from lay knowledge to civic intelligence in health impact assessment

Elliott, Eva ORCID: and Williams, Gareth Howard 2008. Developing a public sociology: from lay knowledge to civic intelligence in health impact assessment. Journal of Applied Social Science 2 (2) , pp. 14-28. 10.1177/193672440800200203

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The theme of “Public Sociologies” at the 2004 American Sociological Association (ASA) conference reignited past debates about the direction of sociology, and its relationship to civil society and the public sphere. In his presidential address Michael Burawoy raised two key questions about sociological knowledge: knowledge for whom and knowledge for what? This provoked widespread discussion across sociological and policy communities. This paper reflects on some of these debates through a commissioned piece of social research: a “health impact assessment” undertaken in a former coal mining community in south Wales, UK. In this case study we argue that there are elements of professional, public, and policy sociologies, and we explore the relationships between these, and how they evolved. We go on to use this case study to explore wider debates in the social sciences about “new knowledge spaces” within which contentious public issues are discussed, and the implications of these pluralistic epistemological environments for different forms of expertise. In particular we refer to the debate on “lay knowledge” and “scientific expertise” and propose that a concept of “civic intelligence” provides a mechanism to resolve the tension between these.

Item Type: Article
Date Type: Publication
Status: Published
Schools: Cardiff Institute of Society and Health (CISHE)
Social Sciences (Includes Criminology and Education)
Subjects: H Social Sciences > H Social Sciences (General)
H Social Sciences > HM Sociology
Publisher: Sage
ISSN: 1936-7244
Last Modified: 19 Oct 2022 10:34

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