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Freezing deliberation through public expert advice
Uppsala University, Disciplinary Domain of Humanities and Social Sciences, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Government.ORCID iD: 0000-0002-3522-4966
Melbourne University.
2016 (English)In: Journal of European Public Policy, ISSN 1350-1763, E-ISSN 1466-4429Article in journal (Refereed) Epub ahead of print
Abstract [en]

When important public issues are debated, many options for government action should be subjected to serious reflection. Constrained discussions over policy options may hamper democratic legitimacy and accountability, and produce decisions that ignore relevant reasons and facts. Hence, constrained deliberation has important consequences for knowledge construction and utilization. We advance theory on ‘epistemic policy learning’ by showing mechanisms that promote expert consensus in external arenas, and that these can hamper deliberation on public policy. Government-appointed experts, in combination with mass media, can ‘freeze’ deliberation by presenting one unified front. Comparison of national print media coverage in Sweden and Denmark during the 2009 H1N1 influenza pandemic offers support. The similar polities enacted different policies: Sweden sought to vaccinate its full population while neighbouring Denmark targeted small groups. Yet experts dominated both public discourses and echoed each other’s support of national policy. In turn, public policy debates were scant in both contexts.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Keyword [en]
Certified experts or expertise, epistemic communities, evidence-based policy, pandemic influenza, policy deliberation, policy risk or uncertainty, vaccination policy
National Category
Social Sciences
Research subject
Political Science
URN: urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-297035DOI: 10.1080/13501763.2016.1170192OAI: diva2:940617
Civila samhället och den upplysta välfärdsstaten
Swedish Research Council, 2010-2306
Available from: 2016-06-21 Created: 2016-06-21 Last updated: 2016-06-21Bibliographically approved

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Öberg, PerOla
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