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Expertise and scientific uncertainty: Understanding trust amongst professional stakeholders in environment and health

Lookup NU author(s): Dr Judith Bush, Professor Tanja Pless-Mulloli


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There is a substantial literature on notions of public trust in relation to risks from environmental and technological hazards. Rather less work has sought to explore trust in terms of professional interstakeholder relations in this context. Drawing on a case study for northern England, we consider dimensions of trust amongst those with a 'professional' involvement in the arena of environmental hazards and public health. We explore specifically the interrelated themes of scientific uncertainty and expertise, which were central to the shaping of trust relations. Against a background of indeterminacy in the scientific search for causality in environment - health relationships, the empirical work on which the paper is based is also set in a context of change and insecurity in organisational terms. The notion of 'independence' was brought into question through aspects of role demarcation while concerns about levels of expertise were superimposed with a sense of exclusion of community groups from 'official' environment - health debates. We argue that a simple deficit approach was being adopted on the part of salaried professionals towards community involvement in such debates.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Dunn CE, Crowley P, Bush J, Pless-Mulloli T, McKinney PA

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Environment and Planning A

Year: 2008

Volume: 40

Issue: 3

Pages: 696-714

Date deposited: 20/05/2010

ISSN (print): 0308-518X

ISSN (electronic): 1472-3409

Publisher: Pion Ltd.


DOI: 10.1068/a3993


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