Att beräkna det goda samhället: Samhällsekonomiska analyser och gränslandet expertis–politik inom transportområdet

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Sven Widmalm
Karolina Isaksson
Göran Sundqvist

The study deals with applied cost-benefit analysis (CBA) and the significant role this method has acquired in transport policy in Sweden since 1998. It is a study of a valuation method at the intersection between neoclassical economics, expertise, Swedish transport policy, long term planning and regional decision makers. Specifically, it focuses on the co-production of expertise and politics and how boundaries are drawn between them in relation to valuation. Departing from a constructionist approach to science and expertise, the study is concerned with how CBA and valuation is depicted in various contexts. The empirical foundation of the study concists of documents dealing with CBA, several kinds of transport policy documents and interview transcripts resulting from interviews with thirteen regional decision makers and one regional official. The analysis shows the significant influence of CBA on transport policy. While this valuation method is depicted as an objective valuation tool in planning, its conceptual foundation tends to be black-boxed outside the domain of expertise. This applies also to the interviewed regional decision makers. However, they delimit the space for CBA as a sufficient decision support. In addition, they construct judgment as the most important basis for decisions on infrastructure. Still, it is argued, the black-boxing of CBA in transport policy affect the political landscape negatively: it entails a risk that important political issues are made more inaccessible for public debate.

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