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The article considers the current discussion on the possibilities and limitations of different theoretical-methodological approaches to the study of the representation of expert knowledge in court proceedings, and on the peculiarities of interaction of forensic experts and jurists. The author emphasizes contribution and methodological limitations of the interpretative traditions and focuses on the potential of the actor-network theory for the study of interaction of forensic experts and jurists, such as implementation of Bruno Latour’s principle of “generalized symmetry” and the concept “juridical chain” for the analysis of the legal sphere. The author believes that Latour’s exclusive attention to the “specific rationality” of judicial practice prevented him from revealing complex trajectories of networks both within and outside the particular legal institution that he studied. The article claims that representatives of science and technology studies contribute to de-legitimization of the results of scientific research represented in forensic expert reports for this approach ignores the asymmetry of power relations between experts and jurists. Pierre Bourdieu’s theory of the juridical field allows to overcome the one-sidedness of the actor-network theory for it considers the inner logic of the juridical field development, reveals the asymmetry of power relations within it, competition between bearers of different forms of juridical capital with specific interests and resources, and the influence of other fields on the juridical field. The author believes that the most promising perspective is the combination of actor-network theory, its interpretations in science and technology studies and Bourdieu’s theory of the juridical field, which would allow to analyze not only the inner logic of circulation of expert knowledge but also the external context of its production and transformations within the juridical field.

About the authors

E V Maslovskaya

Sociological Institute Federal Center of Theoretical and Applied Sociology of the Russian Academy of Sciences

Author for correspondence.


7 Krasnoarmeiskaya St., 24/15, Saint Petersburg, 190005, Russia


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Copyright (c) 2018 Maslovskaya E.V.

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