The time has come to widen our political and intellectual horizons, writes Muxe Nkondo
Johannesburg, Oct.17.─ Both participatory democracy and professional expertise are defining values of South African society. Although many social scientists have tried to understand the two as mutually supportive, the tension between participatory democracy and professional expertise has long been a critical theme in South African politics.
Whereas participatory democracy stands for transparent and inclusive deliberation on the part of all citizens, professional expertise has always been regarded as the exclusive domain of professional elites. Whereas participatory democracy seeks to canvass a wide range of perspectives on a given topic, professional expertise strives to limit the number of participants in pursuit of facts and truth.
Taking up the tension between participatory democracy and professional expertise, we should reformulate the relationship through a socio-political perspective emphasising professional practice as a socio-political activity. Rather than taking professional practice to be the ideal for decision processes, we should investigate to what degree such practice might be democratised.
Against this backdrop, we should turn to the more difficult question of a lay person’s ability to collaboratively engage in professional decision processes ...
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