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Knowledge, Policy, and Expertise: The UK Royal Commission on Environmental Pollution 1970-2011

  • Addresses key contemporary questions about knowledge and expertise in the policy processes of modern democracies
  • Provides the only full account of the UK Royal Commission on Environmental Pollution
  • Combines insights from several major disciplinary traditions and provides an in-depth analysis of the practices and influence of a significant, long-standing advisory body

By: Susan Owens(Author)

Oxford University Press

Hardback | Aug 2015 | #232952 | ISBN-13: 9780198294658
Availability: Usually dispatched within 5 days Details
NHBS Price: £54.99 $71/€61 approx

About this book

Knowledge, Policy, and Expertise presents a fascinating analysis of expertise and policy formation, based on an in-depth study of the UK Royal Commission on Environmental Pollution. The Commission provided expert advice to governments from 1970 to 2011. Often portrayed as a scientific body, it was in fact an interesting hybrid, which embodied wide-ranging expertise. It delivered thirty-three reports, leaving a significant mark on British environmental policy, and having influence within Europe and beyond. Drawing upon an extensive literature and a wide range of sources, Knowledge, Policy, and Expertise provides the only full account of this important advisory body, covering a period in which the policy landscape was profoundly transformed. It offers a rich and detailed analysis of authority, autonomy, and trust; of the diverse roles that advisors can play and the networks within which they operate; and of the circumstances of influence in which expert advice comes to be accepted gratefully, used strategically, absorbed in diffuse ways, or ignored. Above all, Knowledge, Policy, and Expertise demonstrates the complexity and contingency of knowledge-policy relations, contributing substantially to a theory of expertise, and drawing out important implications for the future of good advice.


1: Knowledge, advice, and policy
2: The environment in politics
3: A standing royal commission
4: Risk, precaution, and governance: an evolution of ideas, Susan Owens and Tim Rayner
5: The quest for integration
6: The circumstances of influence
7: Giving good advice?

1: Reports of the Royal Commission and government responses
2: Location of environmental functions in UK Government, 1970-2011
3: Interviewees (and other sources) by category
4: United Kingdom and European legislation mentioned in the text
5: Chairs of the Royal Commission and membership, 1971, 1991, and 2011

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Susan Owens is Professor of Environment and Policy at the University of Cambridge, Department of Geography, and a Professorial Fellow of Newnham College. Her research lies in the field of environmental governance, with particular interests in the role of knowledge, ideas, and expertise in policy formation and change. She is a Fellow of the British Academy and of the Academy of Social Sciences, and has been a member of the Royal Society's Science Policy Advisory Group (2008-13). She served on the Royal Commission on Environmental Pollution for ten years, 1998-2008. She was appointed an OBE in 1998 and holds an Honorary Doctorate from the Royal Institute of Technology (KTH) in Stockholm.

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