—Harald A. Mieg
It has been said that experts are ubiquitous in today's life. We see them in courts, on TV, in hospitals, or as business consultants. Because experts are everywhere and are depended on so much, is it not ironic that social sciences have not, to date, thoroughly explored the question, who is really an expert? Most times it seems neither necessary nor possible to distinguish experts from other extraordinary persons such as professionals, specialists, scientists, or academics. Yet it seems an accepted fact that we cannot do without experts.
If questioned, most individuals would maintain that when being confronted with experts they may alternate between two attitudes: Sometimes they would like to consult the real expert—that is, somebody with superior knowledge who knows what to do and how the world functions. Sometimes they distrust this kind of objective advice and disregard expert knowledge as narrow-minded and being far from common sense. Some say: What we need is not certainty but useful knowledge.
Following this line of thought, this book looks at the use of the experts' expertise. Until today, the study of experts and their expertise has been covered by two sciences: psychology and sociology, precisely—the psychology of expertise and the sociology of professions. As I am trained in psychology and have a serious interest in sociology, I wanted to consider ways to bring together research from both disciplines. My first dialogues with scholars seemed promising because I heard the same remark on both sides: “Interesting!” However, what I eventually realized was that “Interesting!” never marked the beginning of discussion, but the polite end. I was
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Publication information: Book title: The Social Psychology of Expertise: Case Studies in Research, Professional Domains, and Expert Roles. Contributors: Harald A. Mieg - Author. Publisher: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates. Place of publication: Mahwah, NJ. Publication year: 2001. Page number: ix.
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