Higher expertise, pedagogic rights and the post-truth society

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This paper discusses the nature of higher expertise in society and the role of higher education in constituting that expertise. It is argued that higher expertise relies on disciplined norms against which expert activity can be evaluated, and such norms are the basis not only for knowledge communities in higher education but also for other societal institutions. However, expertise in these communities and institutions is challenged by ‘post-truth’ developments that are fuelled by the marketisation and commodification of expertise, and by a collapse in deference and trust throughout society to which expert institutions and communities have not yet adequately responded. The consequences for higher education can be usefully explored via Durkheim’s discussion of the social organisation of religion and magic. Bernstein’s pedagogic rights of enhancement, inclusion and participation are subsequently examined to offer insight into how higher expertise may be sustained in such a context.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)288-301
Number of pages14
JournalTeaching in Higher Education
Issue number3
Early online date20 Feb 2019
Publication statusPublished - 3 Apr 2019


  • academic practice
  • Disciplinarity
  • educational knowledge

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education


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