Knowledge, Science, and Expertise

The Knowledge, Science, and Expertise programme groups together research conducted at the CSO on the production, circulation, and social uses of scientific knowledge. This work draws on a wide variety of research traditions: organisational sociology, sociology of public policy, sociology of social movements, science studies, economic sociology, sociology of professions, etc.

The research in this programme is organized along three principal lines of inquiry:

  1. The first concerns the uses of the sciences to inform policy decisions. The research conducted on this theme analyses the ongoing changes in how governmental actors appeal to scientific expertise and studies how the instrumentalisation of public policy incorporates and accretes technical knowledge. It also expands the scope of inquiry to other actors for whom scientific knowledge constitutes a political resource, such as industrial groups and social movements.
  2. The second focuses on the feedback effects of political, economic, and judicial uses of knowledge on the conditions of the production of said knowledge. By studying various disciplinary fields (behavioural sciences, economics, exposure science, toxicology, nanoscience, etc.), this research brings to light the phenomena of knowledge competition and selection that arise from interactions between science, economics, and politics, as well as the phenomena of ignorance, obfuscation, and oversight that may also result.
  3. The third line of inquiry is concerned with the modes of organizing spaces of knowledge production. Within this perspective, research and/or teaching organisations (universities, institutions, etc.) as well as healthcare establishments (hospitals, clinics, specific agencies, etc.) constitute privileged subjects for the observation of certain organisational and professional developments that structurally alter the social conditions of knowledge production. This research focuses more specifically on the importation of administrative and managerial knowledge into these social spaces, as it constitutes a privileged vector for such transformations.

Programme directors: Jean-Noël Jouzel and Renaud Crespin.


  • Production and circulation of policy instruments
  • Production of scientific policies
  • Organisation of clinical research
  • Bureaucratisation of the evaluation of health and environmental risks
  • Uses of scientific knowledge in activism and protest
  • Production of ignorance


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