Expert Knowledge Circulation in the Judicial Field: Encounters of Epistemic Cultures and Practices of Translation
Dr. Sci. (Sociol.), Lead Researcher, Sociological Institute of FCTAS RAS, St. Petersburg, Russia email@example.com
The article is devoted to interaction of forensic experts and jurists as bearers of different epistemic cultures. Circulation of a forensic expert report represents production of knowledge in the process of interaction between epistemic cultures and its transition from one professional group to another. Drawing on approaches of contemporary sociology of science the author demonstrates that encounters of different viewpoints and practices are an essential part of production and presentation of expert evidence in legal proceedings. Employing Bourdieu’s theory of the juridical field allows the author to reveal an asymmetry of power relations within that field and a relatively weak position of forensic experts. The empirical basis of the study is formed by data of non-participant observation in several Russian courts and interviews with jurists and forensic experts. The article demonstrates an entanglement of structurally and epistemically defined disagreements between representatives of these professional groups. Translation as a form of explication of the results of forensic expert’s analysis is presented in the article as a main means of overcoming these disagreements. At the same time various tactics are used by forensic experts who have to take into account both the peculiarities of epistemic culture of jurists and structural characteristics of the juridical field.