The Fifth Branch: Science Advisers as Policymakers

by Sheila Jasanoff (Author)

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
--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

Book Description

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.

Product Details

Paperback: 320 pages
Publisher: Harvard University Press (August 19, 1998)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0674300629



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