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That policymakers adopt technoscientific viewpoints and lack reflexivity is a common criticism of scientific decision-making, particularly in response to moves to democratise science. Drawing on interviews with UK-based national policymakers, I argue that an elite sociotechnical imaginary of 'science to the rescue' shapes how public perspectives are heard and distinguishes what is considered to be legitimate expertise. The machinery of policy-making has become shaped around this imaginary - particularly its focus on science as a problem-solver and on social and ethical issues as 'nothing to do with the science' - and this gives this viewpoint its power, persistence and endurance. With this imaginary at the heart of policy-making machinery, regardless of the perspectives of the policymakers, alternative views of science are either forced to take the form of the elite imaginary in order to be processed, or they simply cannot be accounted for within the policy-making processes. In this way, the elite sociotechnical imaginary (and technoscientific viewpoint) is enacted, but also elicited and perpetuated, without the need for policymakers to engage with or even be aware of the imaginary underpinning their actions.
This article was published in the following journal.
Name: Social studies of science
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Literary works whose subject matter is science or about the profession of science and related areas.
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A course or method of action selected, usually by an organization, institution, university, society, etc., from among alternatives to guide and determine present and future decisions and positions on matters of public interest or social concern. It does not include internal policy relating to organization and administration within the corporate body, for which ORGANIZATION AND ADMINISTRATION is available.
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