Article published in Springer in December 2019
Author: Federico Brandmayr, Research Associate with the Expertise Under Pressure project.
Building on recent work in the sociology of intellectual interventions, the study of cultural boundaries of science, and the role of ideas in politics, the article develops a theory of public epistemologies as argumentative tools people use to support or oppose political positions. Two prominent public epistemologies that have recently crystallized in Italian politics are taken as illustrations, with special attention paid to the role of two academics (an economist and an immunologist) turned public intellectuals. The article argues that the rise of populism in Italy has contributed to unusual alignments between political and epistemological positions, which has made questions about science and expert knowledge much more relevant in contesting and supporting political decisions.
Federico Brandmayr is a postdoctoral research associate on the project 'Expertise Under Pressure', funded by the Humanities and Social Change International Foundation. In his current project at CRASSH, he studies various forms of scepticism toward social knowledge and analyses what is peculiar about how the public perceives the work of social scientists in contrast with that of natural scientists.