Harry’s Code. An interview with Harry Collins

  • Robert Lorenzo Jomisko
Keywords: Interview, expertise, democracy, science studies


While attending a conference in Budapest in May, I caught up with Harry Collins in Memento Park; an open-air museum filled several dozen statues, busts and plaques from the Communist era. According to the Hungarian architect Ákos Eleőd, who designed it, “the park is about dictatorship. And at the same time, because it can be talked about, described, built, this park is about democracy. After all, only democracy is able to give the opportunity to let us think freely about dictatorship.” In retrospect, it seemed a fitting location for the interview. As many of our readers are no doubt already aware, Collins has for at least ten years been engaged in discussions about social aspects of science and democracy. In efforts to impose what some have described as restrictions on public engagement with expertise, there are those who have labeled his proposals ‘illiberal’ and ‘undemocratic’. Others have viewed them as an attempt to ensure expertise is not lost when engaging the public in decision-making. Ever since his early works on knowledge diffusion in the 1970s, Collins has kept reinventing himself. And with an advanced grant from the European Research Council, he shows no signs of slowing down anytime soon.