Article ID: CBB914224614

Localizing Detroit’s Food System: Boundary-Work and the Politics of Experiential Expertise (2019)


Recently, different expert actors have attempted to localize Detroit’s food system to bring about greater justice citywide. At first, ‘professional experts’ dominated these efforts, claiming authority in the food system due to their knowledge based in qualified training and applied work experience. Yet a rival group of ‘experiential experts’ soon rose up to assert their power, arguing they and their unique race and place-based know-how merited greater influence. Within just a few years, experiential experts successfully replaced professional ones in commanding much area food localization. I show that experiential experts achieved this power largely through strategic boundary-work, including expulsion, expansion, and protection of autonomy. Nonetheless, some Detroiters and professional experts themselves questioned experiential experts’ legitimacy in removing professional experts from the food system altogether. I thus introduce a fourth form of boundary-work that experiential experts deployed to maintain their clout, what I term ‘accommodation’. Accommodation connotes instances of strategic inclusion where an expert authority facilitates rivals in sharing some influence based on distinct conditions that leave dominant epistemic arrangements generally intact. This occurred in Detroit as experiential experts accommodated professional ones in exercising some food systems power provided they better deploy their own race and place-based knowledge. Such actions helped quell public concern while also protecting experiential experts’ rising authority. Accommodation is useful for understanding cases in which diverse types of experts work together despite that single knowledge-forms guide their activities overall. Further research into accommodation could aid in identifying whether or not diverse forms of knowledge are together influencing decision-making around a range of cases, or if single forms of expertise remain dominant despite the appearance that democratization is taking place.

Included in

Article Logan D. A. Williams; Sharlissa Moore (2019) Guest Editorial: Conceptualizing Justice and Counter-Expertise. Science as Culture (pp. 251-276). unapi

Associated with

Article Gloria Baigorrotegui (2019) Making Justice for Counter-Expertise and Doing Counter-Expertise for Justice. Science as Culture (pp. 375-382). unapi

Article Kelly Moore; Nathalia Hernández Vidal; Daniel Lee Kleinman (2019) Knowledge and Justice: A Comment. Science as Culture (pp. 383-390). unapi

Article Oluwatoyin Dare Kolawole (2019) Science, Social Scientisation and Hybridisation of Knowledges. Science as Culture (pp. 391-401). unapi

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Authors & Contributors
Henry, Emmanuel
Allen, Barbara L.
Bouchard, Frédéric
Jas, Nathalie
Krimsky, Sheldon
Kroker, Kenton
Science, Technology, and Human Values
Science as Culture
Acta Historica Leopoldina
Engineering Studies
Perspectives on Science
Social Studies of Science
Polity Press
University of California Press
University of Chicago Press
University of Nebraska Press
Science and politics
Science and technology studies (STS)
Boundary work
Controversies and disputes
Power (social sciences)
Time Periods
21st century
20th century, late
19th century
20th century
Arabian peninsula
Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development
Gulf Cooperation Council
Netherlands Bureau for Economic Policy Analysis

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