Introduction: Environmental Experts in Context


  • Luise Beddies
  • Aline Dausendschön
  • Raf de Bont
  • Maximilian Matuschka
  • Eline Schmeets



Ever since the concept ‘environment’ became a household term in the 1970s, it has been a constant object of controversy. The way we should deal with natural resources, and, more generally, how we should relate to nature as a whole has over the previous decades continuously been discussed by politicians, civil society, journalists and academics. The stakes of these discussions are high. According to sociologists such as Ulrich Beck (1992) and Anthony Giddens (1999), our modern society is characterized by high levels of environmental risk. What is more, Beck and his colleagues have stressed that contemporary society increasingly acknowledges human agency in both the production of environmental risks, and the possible mitigation of those risks. In order to organize this mitigation successfully, expert knowledge is considered crucial by most stakeholders involved. Therefore, experts of all kinds are called upon to settle controversies about how to deal with the environment. It is exactly this role of experts that constitutes the topic of this volume. 


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