The Social Psychology of Expertise: Case Studies in Research, Professional Domains, and Expert Roles

By Harald A. Mieg | Go to book overview

CHAPTER
3

Essentials of Experts-in-Contexts:
“The Expert”-Interaction
When discussing experts and their roles, the basic idea is to understand expert as a form of interaction rather than as a person. Thus, almost anyone can—under certain circumstances—act as an expert. We see, even if there is sometimes a mystical note attached to experts, that the interaction involved in consulting an expert or, respectively, being consulted as an expert is based on a simple fact: There is somebody who seems to have knowledge that someone else is in need of.This chapter develops the minimal explication of expert or the expert's role we have been looking for. As we have already said, we do not aim at a full description of all possible aspects of that role. Instead, we come to three assertions that might contradict certain more or less implicit scientific assumptions on experts. The assertions are:
a. The expert refers more to a form of interaction than to a person,
b. There are nonprofessional experts, and
c. The core of the expert's role consists of providing experience-based knowledge that we could attain ourselves if we had enough time to make the necessary experience.

We discuss the aspect of interaction and define the expert as a social form of interaction (chap. 3.1). Then we look at the conditions and constraints of attributing someone as an expert (chap. 3.2). Finally, we try to determine what are, indeed, the reasons for which we consult an expert, particularly the role of the time gain in using experts as compressed experiences (chap. 3.3).

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