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

By Harald A. Mieg | Go to book overview

CHAPTER
1

Introduction

One of the gravest of cognitive problems in the modern world is that of rendering accessible in an organized, coherent, and coordinated way the information already, broadly speaking available—a process that is invariably difficult and expensive.

—Nicholas Rescher (1989, pp. 10–11)

In a nutshell, this quote from philosopher Nicholas Rescher shows many of the issues regarding the dissemination and use of knowledge in today's knowledge-based societies:
First, the use of knowledge requires an institutionalized form of exchange (organized way), such as books, schools, or experts.
Second, knowledge is time-dependent; relevant information refers to the knowledge base of a particular time (information already available).
Third, exchanging knowledge can be costly (difficult and expensive); as far as knowledge is subject to valuation and selection, it has an economic dimension.

This book focuses on experts as part of a society's knowledge base. It presents cognitive expertise as a particular sort of an individual, human capacity. Expertise is based on knowledge. But is it the same? There are doubts. Expertise has its specific developmental aspect—we have to train to become experts. In contrast, knowledge per se seems to have an imper-

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