Managing Public Expectations of Technological Systems: A Case Study of a Problematic Government Project

Aaron K Martin, Edgar A Whitley


In this discussion piece we address how the UK government has attempted to manage public expectations of a proposed biometric identity scheme by focussing attention on the handheld, i.e., the ID card. We suggest that this strategy of expectations management seeks to downplay the complexity and uncertainty surrounding this high-technological initiative, necessitating the selective use of expertise for the purpose of furthering government objectives. In this process, government often relegates counterexpertise, if not dismissing it outright, thereby greatly politicizing the policy deliberation process. We argue that this manoeuvring by government spells trouble for both democratic deliberation on the issue of biometric identification in the UK and, more generally, expertise-based policy making in related technological ventures.

Full Text:



Comments on this article

View all comments