John Libbey Eurotext

Environnement, Risques & Santé


Scientific expertise from the inside: AFSSET Working Group on Radiofrequencies (2008-2009) Volume 13, issue 1, Janvier-Février 2014

Laboratoire interdisciplinaire d’études sur les réflexivités
Institut Marcel Mauss
10, rue Monsieur le Prince
75006 Paris
* Tirés à part
  • Key words: electromagnetic radiation, environmental exposure, expertise, health risk, sociology
  • DOI : 10.1684/ers.2013.0673
  • Page(s) : 28-39
  • Published in: 2014

Although there is now a large amount of social science research on scientific expertise and expert groups, direct evidence by sociologists who themselves participated in scientific expert groups assessing controversial topics remain rare. This paper offers just this type of feedback. The aim is to analyse the production of scientific expert opinions based on personal experience: the author's participation as a sociologist in an expert committee set up by the former French Agency for the Safety of Health, the Environment and Work (AFSSET) on the topic of radio-frequencies. Several problematic aspects of these groups will thus be discussed from this concrete experience: the problem of the composition of the expert group, the issue of conflicts of interest, the organisation of the work within the group, the effects of the presence of an observer from an association, and the differences between performing scientific research and providing scientific expert opinions.