Published by European Journal of Social Theory 24.2 (2021): pp. 306-310.
Author: Federico Brandmayr, Research Associate on the project Expertise Under Pressure.
A review of Gil Eyal’s book ‘The Crisis of Expertise’
Gil Eyal is one of the most prominent sociologists studying the role of experts, intellectuals and professionals in contemporary societies. In the last 20 years, he has written a series of empirical studies on the role of experts in the diffusion of neoliberalism in Eastern Europe, in the breakup of Czechoslovakia, in the formation and cultural justification of the Israeli State and in the rise in autism diagnoses. In these carefully documented works, he has argued in favour of the sociology of expertise as an original approach superior to the sociology of professions. This is because it focuses not only on jurisdictional struggles (i.e. who controls a task or problem?) but also, and crucially, on what makes it possible for a certain form of expertise, conceived as networks of objects, actors, techniques and institutional arrangements, to be gradually assembled. The latter is now commonly known as the ‘network’ theory of expertise and is often opposed to the ‘realist’ theory of Collins and Evans (2007) and to the ‘institutional’ theory of Jasanoff (2004). In his last book, Eyal takes a step back from these debates and addresses the very topical question of whether expertise is experiencing a crisis, why this is so, and what can be done about it.