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Sociology Research


This research project examines a highly topical and theoretically under-defined phenomenon: the emergence of alternative expert advisory groups during the COVID-19 pandemic.

As the new public health threat of COVID-19 became apparent in February-March 2020, governments around the world drew on experts to define the most appropriate policy response to protect population health as well as key economic and social activity. In addition to formal advisory groups convened by governments, experts in some countries formed alternative groups to offer their advice on various aspects of the COVID-19 crisis.

The project investigates the role of these alternative expert groups in managing the COVID-19 pandemic in March-November 2020 in the United Kingdom and the Czech Republic. It focuses on the interaction of alternative expert groups with governments, politicians and civil servants, as well as with other experts, notably those in official government structures. It studies the activities of alternative expert groups as well as the resources that are available to them.

Theoretically, the project builds on Peter M. Haas’ framework of conceptualizing expert groups as epistemic communities: networks of experts united by their scientific knowledge and a common policy enterprise. The emergence of alternative expert groups allows us to address one of the important gaps in the literature on epistemic communities, which too often focuses on a dyadic relationship between policymakers and a single expert group and ignores other actors.

Principal Investigator: Olga Löblová

Funding: Borysiewicz Biomedical Sciences Fellowship Programme (University of Cambridge)

Start Date: 01/01/2021

End Date: 31/03/2021


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