Beyond evidence versus truthiness: toward a symmetrical approach to knowledge and ignorance in policy studies

Haddad

Wissenschaftliche Publikationen 25.04.2019

Peer reviewed article by Katharina Paul & Christian Haddad

Zurück

Katharina Paul & Christian Haddad (2019): Beyond evidence versus truthiness: toward a symmetrical approach to knowledge and ignorance in policy studies. In: Policy Sciences (peer-reviewed)

Abstract

Current  political  developments  in  established  liberal  democracies  in  both  Europe  and  North  America  have  fundamentally  called  into  question  the  normative  relations  between  truth,  knowledge  and  politics.  Whether  labeled  “posttruth”  or  truthiness,  commentators  lament  the  willful  spread  and  deployment  of  nonknowledge  and  ignorance  as  important  political  forces.  In  this  paper,  we  discuss  ignorance  in  its  strategic  dimension  by  weaving  together  insights  from  the  sociology  of  ignorance  with  a  policy-scientific  approach.  By  means  of  three  empirical  vignettes,  we  demonstrate  that  ignorance  is  more  than  the  flipside  of  knowledge  or  merely  its  lack:  it  is  a  constitutive  feature  of  the  policy  process  and is thus not uniquely symptomatic of the current era. We conclude by arguing for what we call a symmetrical approach in which ignorance receives the same quality of attention that  knowledge  has  historically  received  in  the  policy  sciences.  To  make  fully  visible  the  different  forms  of  ignorance  that  shape  policy  processes,  policy  scholars  must  hone  their  “agnoto-epistemological  sensibilities”  to  cope  with  the  current  challenges  and  advance  a  policy science for democracy.

Keywords
Agnotology · Critical policy studies · Evidence-based policy · Knowledge ·
Ignorance · Policy sciences · Posttruth

Link to the paper