The Political uses of Expert Knowledge

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The Political Uses of Expert Knowledge

Why do politicians and civil servants commission research, and what use do
they make of it in policymaking? The received wisdom is that research
contributes to improving government policy. Christina Boswell challenges
this view, arguing that policymakers are just as likely to value expert
knowledge for two alternative reasons: as a way of lending authority to
their preferences; or to signal their capacity to make sound decisions.
Boswell develops a compelling new theory of the role of knowledge in
policy, showing how policymakers use research to establish authority in
contentious and risky areas of policy. She illustrates her argument with an
analysis of European immigration policies, charting the ways in which
expertise becomes a resource for lending credibility to controversial
claims, underpinning high-risk decisions or bolstering the credibility of
government agencies. This book will make fascinating reading for those
interested in the interface between policymaking, academic research and
political legitimacy.
christina boswell is Senior Lecturer in Politics at the School of Social
and Political Science, University of Edinburgh.

The Political Uses
of Expert Knowledge
Immigration Policy and Social Research

c h r i s t i n a bo s w e l l


Cambridge, New York, Melbourne, Madrid, Cape Town, Singapore,
São Paulo, Delhi, Dubai, Tokyo
Cambridge University Press
The Edinburgh Building, Cambridge CB2 8RU, UK
Published in the United States of America by Cambridge University Press, New York

Information on this title: 
© Christina Boswell 2009
This publication is in copyright. Subject to statutory exception and to the
provision of relevant collective licensing agreements, no reproduction of any part
may take place without the written permission of Cambridge University Press.
First published in print format 2009



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accurate or appropriate.


List of figures and tables

page vi

I The political functions of knowledge



The puzzle: explaining the uses o...
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