The Fifth Branch: Science Advisers as Policymakers / Edition 1

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Overview

How can decisionmakers charged with protecting the environment and the public's health and safety steer clear of false and misleading scientific research? Is it possible to give scientists a stronger voice in regulatory processes without yielding too much control over policy, and how can this be harmonized with democratic values? These are just some of the many controversial and timely questions that Sheila Jasanoff asks in this study of the way science advisers shape federal policy.

In their expanding role as advisers, scientists have emerged as a formidable fifth branch of government. But even though the growing dependence of regulatory agencies on scientific and technical information has granted scientists a greater influence on public policy, opinions differ as to how those contributions should be balanced against other policy concerns. More important, who should define what counts as good science when all scientific claims incorporate social factors and are subject to negotiation?

Jasanoff begins by describing some significant failures--such as nitrites, Love Canal, and alar--in administrative and judicial decisionmaking that fed the demand for more peer review of regulatory science. In analyzing the nature of scientific claims and methods used in policy decisions, she draws comparisons with the promises and limitations of peer review in scientific organizations operating outside the regulatory context. The discussion of advisory mechanisms draws on the author's close scrutiny of two highly visible federal agencies--the Environmental Protection Agency and the Food and Drug Administration. Here we see the experts in action as they deliberate on critical issues such as clean air, pesticide regulation, and the safety of pharmaceuticals and food additives.

Jasanoff deftly merges legal and institutional analysis with social studies of science and presents a strong case for procedural reforms. In so doing, she articulates a social-construction model that is intended to buttress the effectiveness of the fifth branch.

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Editorial Reviews

Nature

[A] provocative and original work...Jasanoff has pioneered the exploring of the workings of the gears and sprockets of the Fifth Branch.
— Daniel S. Greenberg

Political Science Quarterly

[A] first-rate study...[Jasanoff's] findings have important bearing on the general concern with the impact of expertise on democracy.
— Sanford Lakoff

Science

The problems of science and politics continue. Jasanoff's work will surely enlighten the debate.
— Susan Bartlett Foote

Times Higher Education Supplement

Jasanoff focuses down sharply on a set of solidly researched case-studies involving the Environmental Protection Agency and the Food and Drug Administration, and their handling of regulations concerning clean air, pesticides, and the safety of pharmaceuticals and food additives. But this apparent narrowness belies the theoretical significance of the book, which far transcends its empirical base in these examples and, for that matter, in the United States.
— Philip Gummett

Political Studies

Thorough and thoughtful. [The Fifth Branch] will remain the definitive work in its field for a considerable time to come.
— Roger Williams

Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists

Reading this well-written book would be excellent preparation for any scientist planning to participate in regulatory science in an agency or to serve on an advisory panel. And its insights into the workings of advisory committees could be useful to many others...no other book so thoroughly reviews the role science advisory groups have played.
— John F. Ahearne

Nature - Daniel S. Greenberg
[A] provocative and original work...Jasanoff has pioneered the exploring of the workings of the gears and sprockets of the Fifth Branch.
Political Science Quarterly - Sanford Lakoff
[A] first-rate study...[Jasanoff's] findings have important bearing on the general concern with the impact of expertise on democracy.
Science - Susan Bartlett Foote
The problems of science and politics continue. Jasanoff's work will surely enlighten the debate.
Times Higher Education Supplement - Philip Gummett
Jasanoff focuses down sharply on a set of solidly researched case-studies involving the Environmental Protection Agency and the Food and Drug Administration, and their handling of regulations concerning clean air, pesticides, and the safety of pharmaceuticals and food additives. But this apparent narrowness belies the theoretical significance of the book, which far transcends its empirical base in these examples and, for that matter, in the United States.
Political Studies - Roger Williams
Thorough and thoughtful. [The Fifth Branch] will remain the definitive work in its field for a considerable time to come.
Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists - John F. Ahearne
Reading this well-written book would be excellent preparation for any scientist planning to participate in regulatory science in an agency or to serve on an advisory panel. And its insights into the workings of advisory committees could be useful to many others...no other book so thoroughly reviews the role science advisory groups have played.
Booknews
Jasanoff Program on Science, Technology, and Society, Cornell begins by describing some significant failures--such as flu shots, Love Canal, and alar--in administrative and judicial decisionmaking that fed the demand for more peer review of regulatory science. She merges legal and institutional analysis with social studies of science and presents a strong case for procedural reforms. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR booknews.com
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780674300620
  • Publisher: Harvard University Press
  • Publication date: 8/28/1998
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 320
  • Product dimensions: 6.07 (w) x 9.27 (h) x 0.79 (d)

Meet the Author

Sheila Jasanoff is Pforzheimer Professor of Science and Technology Studies at the Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University.
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Table of Contents

1. Rationalizing Politics

The Rise of Social Regulation

Science and Policymaking

Expertise and Trust

The Contingency of Knowledge

The Reform Debate

An Alternative Approach

2. Flawed Decisions

Nitrites

2,4,5-T

Love Canal

Estimates of Occupational Cancer

The Technocratic Response

A Critical Counterpoint

3. Science for the People

The Rationale for Public Science

The "New" Expert Agency

Scientific Advice and Open Government

Judicial Review of Science Policy

The Weakening of the Paradigm

4. Peer Review and Regulatory Science

The Traditions of Peer Review

Peer Review in Practice

Instructive Failures Regulatory Science: Content and Context

Implications for Regulatory Peer Review

5. EPA and the Science Advisory Board

Early Political Challenges

A New Cooperation Boundary Exercises

SAB's Impact on Policy

Conclusion

6. The Science and Policy of Clean Air

CASAC and the NAAQS Process

Science and Standards

Redefining CASAC's Role

The Carbon Monoxide Controversy

CASAC's Effectiveness: Bridging Science and Policy

7. Advisers as Adversaries

The Scientific Advisory Panel

Implementing the Impossible

Ethylene Dibromide

Dicofol

Alar

A Fragmentation of Authority

8. FDA's Advisory Network

The Scientific Evaluation of Drugs

Expertise and Food Safety

Advice and Decision

9. Coping with New Knowledge

The Quest for Principled Risk Assessment

Formaldehyde: An Uncertain Carcinogen

Conclusion

10. Technocracy Revisited

A Public-Private Partnership for Science

Risk Assessment without Politics

The Public Board of Inquiry

Wider Applications

11. The Political Function of Good Science

From Advice to Policy

Acceptable Risk

Scientific Advice as Legitimation: Negotiation and Boundary Work

Defining "Good Science"

Normative Implications

Conclusion

Notes

Index

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