Publication details for Dr Christopher LawlessLawless, C. (2010). Managing Epistemic Risk in Forensic Science: Sociological Aspects and Issues. Sociology Compass 4(6): 381-392.
- Publication type: Journal Article
- ISSN/ISBN: 1751-9020 (online)
- DOI: 10.1111/j.1751-9020.2010.00280.x
- Further publication details on publisher web site
- Durham Research Online (DRO) - may include full text
Author(s) from Durham
The last decades have seen a notable increase in the use of scientific evidence in criminal investigation, a development which has captured the imagination of the media, publics and policymakers alike. Yet behind the authoritative image of forensic science lies a highly fluid and indeterminate landscape which invites sociological interest. In what follows, I aim to provide a sense of why it holds appeal to sociology, and to also outline a more updated research agenda in the light of continuing developments and deliberation within both sociological and forensic scientific circles. This renewed agenda revolves around the topic of risk. I outline recent developments which represent new approaches to the problem of epistemic risk in forensic science. With reference to a specific example (the ‘Case Assessment and Interpretation’ method of evidence assessment), I argue for the importance of studying risk-aware practices in forensic investigation, and how these help to reveal further how forensic science can be regarded as a complicated, heterogeneous and highly socialised human activity, in stark contrast to the immutable and technologically sophisticated image often promulgated in popular accounts.