Technocratic Expertise and the Democratic Prospect:
Deliberative Policy Inquiry as Citizen Empowerment
Taking note of a renewed interest in technocratic expertise in contemporary political systems, especially in the face of political crisis, this essay focuses on the apolitical, anti-democratic nature of technocratic theory and expert practices. It singles out technocracy´s animosity toward democratic decision-making, in particular the purported folly of relying on uninformed citizens and the politics of “muddling through.” As a counter response, the paper suggests a democratic deliberative turn. Toward this end, it calls attention to both an alternative analytic-deliberative perspective developed by the U. S. National Research Council and the postpositivist methodological practices of deliberative policy analysis which can extend the analytic-deliberative orientation. Beyond theoretical discussion, the paper offers three brief case illustrations of deliberative policy inquiry that have directly confronted technocratic expertise. It concludes by drawing lessons from these cases for democratic struggles.