Towards reason: political disputes, public attention and the use of expert knowledge in policymaking
This article examines expert knowledge utilization in public policy processes. We study how much expert knowledge is employed and the extent to which decision-makers deliberate on the information provided by the experts, under various conditions of political disputes and public attention. We suggest four hypotheses. It is proposed that expert knowledge will be used more, but that there will be less deliberation in situations of political disputes. It is also suggested that expert knowledge will be consulted more and the decision-makers will take a more deliberative approach when there is a lot of attention from citizens. Our empirical findings, based on original data from local politics in Sweden, are in line with the hypotheses. The findings highlight the importance of both studying the extent of expert knowledge use and the way expertise is utilized. Another important insight is that politics seem to matter in relation to the role expert knowledge plays in public policymaking.