What Counts as Expertise in an Age of Online Activism? The Health Experience


What Counts as Expertise in an Age of Online Activism? The Health Experience

Terrace Lounge Seminar Room
Walter Boas


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T: 9035 4836


Digital media disrupts established notions of expert and expertise. This is nowhere more evident than in the sphere of internet-based health and patient activism. Health and patient activists use digital media to produce their own content, lobby for research, change policies and challenge credentialed experts and scientific evidence. However, as the concept of ‘evidence-based activism’ suggests, citizens’ engagements with experts and expertise are more complicated than may first appear. Citizens often combine ‘experiential knowledge’ and credentialed knowledge to advance their objectives. This talk will explore the changing character of ‘expert’ and ‘expertise’ in the age of the internet and social media, making reference to recent Australian and overseas’ research. It draws on the author’s recent work on patients’ use of digital media to access treatments, including stem cell treatments. The talk will consider the policy and practical implications of citizens’ growing reliance on digitally mediated information. In particular, what constitutes ‘regulation’ in this context — who or what should be regulated, by what means and to what ends?

This seminar forms part of the Troubling Policy seminar series run by the Melbourne School of Government.


  • Professor Alan Petersen
    Professor Alan Petersen, Health & BioFutures Focus Program, Monash University