Department of Archaeology, History, Cultural Studies and Religion
research group

Between expert knowledge and everyday knowledge

The aim of this research group is to explore expert knowledge and everyday knowledge, the interaction and the power struggle between them.

Phrenological diagram from The Household Physician, 1905
Phrenological diagram from The Household Physician, 1905
Wikimedia Commons

Main content

Knowledge and truths about the human world are produced and negotiated in a variety of arenas and institutions.

The aim of this research group is to explore expert knowledge and everyday knowledge, the interaction and the power struggle between them: How is everyday knowledge influenced by various expert knowledges and where, when and why do some forms of knowledge gain power over other forms of knowledge? Some highly relevant fields where expert knowledge and everyday knowledge interacts are religion, health, education, and sexuality.

The research group focuses on these fields, taking its theoretical bearings from the cultural histories of knowledge (e.g. L. Daston), the ethnological studies of the ordinary (e.g. Ehn & Løfgren) and the studies of power/knowledge in the tradition of Michel Foucault. All these traditions have in common is a privileging of the ordinary, whether it is "ordinary science" or "everyday life". We also take our cues from the micro-historical tradition, believing that a detailed examination of individual cases is a most fruitful way to proceed in our studies.

The research group is equally interested in the production of knowledge in the expert fields and in the messy, everyday realm.

Project involvement

  • QUEERDOM (University of Bergen)
    QUEERDOM will investigate how women and men with same-sex desires – about whom we use the term 'queer' – lived and organized their everyday lives across a complex domestic terrain in ways that unsettles customary understandings of private life and family organization in modern Norway (1842–1972). These 'queer domesticities' will be investigated through the intersecting lenses of time, space, class, and gender.
  • Historicizing Intelligence (University of Oslo)
    The purpose of this project is to study the historical development of intelligence tests, IQ-scales and concepts of intelligence that such tests are based on, and have helped to produce. It deals with how the scientific research object "intelligence" has arisen and developed, how it has acquired its various roles and functions in today's Norway, and addresses the values and relations of authority and legitimacy into which intelligence measurements are woven.
  • Biomedicalization from the Inside Out (University of Oslo)
    Since the 1960s, social scientists and activists have criticized the medicalization of everyday life as an extension of power by the medical profession. Yet in the early 21st century, the power in naming the boundaries of normal and pathological has been increasingly uncoupled from the profession of medicine itself, and understanding this process of biomedicalization has been a far more complicated political project. This project traces the history of four linked stories of disease and power in the world today.