Published on June 30, 2016

Can citizens be economists? Simon Burall talks at the RSA

Sciencewise

By Harry Farmer

Harry Farmer is a policy researcher at Involve. He is fascinated by the power of deliberative processes to enable governments to negotiate controversial policy decisions - particularly those presented by emerging technologies and demographic change. He currently works primarily on the Citizens for Public Service programme.

Involve’s director, Simon Burall, spoke on a panel as part of the Royal Society of the Arts’ event ‘Can Citizens be Economists?’

The event was to celebrate the launch of the Citizens’ Economic Council, a programme to engage 50-60 citizens from across the UK in conversations about economic policy.

In his speech, Simon argued that citizens can contribute to policy debates, but make a fundamentally different kind of contribution to that of experts. He contended that experts have a key role in articulating what is at stake in policy decisions, but that expertise (economic or otherwise) is generally not enough to decide on a way forward. Instead, it is the job of citizens to then bring value judgements to bear on the available options.

Simon concluded that in order to improve the quality of public debate, we need to be more conscious of this division of labour. Experts need to be careful not to present their own, value driven conclusions as derived exclusively from of subject matter knowledge. Likewise, it is important to frame policy debates in terms that speak to citizens’ value driven concerns.

View Simon’s speech below:

Learn more about the Citizens’ Economic Council here.

One Response to “Can citizens be economists? Simon Burall talks at the RSA”

  1. September 9, 2016 at 8:07 am

    Simon concluded that in order to improve the quality of public debate, we need to be more conscious of this division of labour. I agree with you.

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