Online | Present Future: The Corona Pandemic and the Crisis of Expertise

Sunday | 20/06/21 | 06:15 pm

Online | Present Future: The Corona Pandemic and the Crisis of Expertise

A lecture by Prof. Gil Eyal | 

How should we understand the harsh fact that whereas most of the Western democracies failed miserably in coping with the coronavirus pandemic, the countries of East Asia (China, Taiwan, Hong Kong, South Korea, Japan, Vietnam, Thailand) succeeded in minimizing the number of deaths and to a great extent also limited the economic effect of the pandemic? The answer to this question is complex and includes a large number of mutually interacting factors. The aim of this lecture is not to answer the question directly, but rather to use it to support the argument—drawn from Gil Eyal’s book The Crisis of Expertise, 2019—that the Western democracies have been undergoing a continuing crisis of expertise at least since the 1970s. This crisis is manifested—in a manner obvious to all during the coronavirus period, but actually long before—in the ongoing fierce struggle between various groups of experts, policy makers, and social organizations for the ability to represent the future and to speak on its behalf. This struggle has had a destructive effect on cultural patterns of trust in experts. In contrast, the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic in East Asian countries was characterized by a power struggle over representing the past. This struggle was “resolved” generally in a way that gave a limited number of experts the status of authority.

As part of the annual conference of the Israeli Society for the History, Philosophy and Sociology of Science

Conference program

Prior registration is required for the conference >


Prof. Gil Eyal, Department of Sociology, Columbia University

Chair: Dr. David Rier, Department of Sociology and Anthropology, Bar-Ilan University

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