- An epistemic community is a network of knowledge-based experts who help decision-makers to define the problems they face, identify various policy solutions and assess the policy outcomes. The definitive conceptual framework of an epistemic community is widely accepted as that of Peter M. Haas. He describes them as "...a network of professionals with recognised expertise and competence in a particular domain and an authoritative claim to policy relevant knowledge within that domain or issue-area." Although the members of an epistemic community may originate from a variety of academic or professional backgrounds, they are linked by a set of unifying characteristics for the promotion of collective amelioration and not collective gain. This is termed their "normative component". In the big picture, epistemic communities are socio-psychological entities that create and justify knowledge. Such communities can constitute of only two persons and yet gain an important role in building knowledge on any specific subject. Miika Vähämaa has recently suggested that epistemic communities consist of persons being able to understand, discuss and gain self-esteem concerning the matters being discussed. Some theorists argue that an epistemic community may consist of those who accept one version of a story, or one version of validating a story. Michel Foucault referred more elaborately to as a rigorous episteme suitable for enabling cohesion of a discourse and thus uniting a community of its followers. In philosophy of science and systems science the process of forming a self-maintaining epistemic community is sometimes called a mindset. In politics, a tendency or faction is usually described in very similar terms. Most researchers carefully distinguish between epistemic forms of community and "real" or "bodily" community which consists of people sharing risk, especially bodily risk. It is also problematic to draw the line between modern ideas and more ancient ones, for example, Joseph Campbell's concept of myth from cultural anthropology, and Carl Jung's concept of archetype in psychology. Some consider forming an epistemic community a deep human need, and ultimately a mythical or even religious obligation. Among these very notably are E. O. Wilson, as well as Ellen Dissanayake, an American historian of aesthetics who famously argued that almost all of our broadly shared conceptual metaphors centre on one basic idea of safety: that of "home". From this view, an epistemic community may be seen as a group of people who do not have any specific history together, but search for a common idea of home as if forming an intentional community. For example, an epistemic community can be found in a network of professionals from a wide variety of disciplines and backgrounds. As discussed in Peter M. Haas's definitive text, an epistemic community is made up of a diverse range of academic and professional experts, who are allied on the basis of four unifying characteristics: 1.
* a shared set of normative and principled beliefs which provide a value-based rationale for the social action of community members; 2.
* shared causal beliefs which are derived from their analysis of practices leading or contributing to a central set of problems in their domain and which then serve as the basis for elucidating the multiple linkages between possible policy actions and desired outcomes; 3.
* shared notions of validity, i.e. intersubjective, internally defined criteria for weighing and validating knowledge in the domain of their expertise; and 4.
* a common policy enterprise, or a set of common practices associated with a set of problems to which their professional competence is directed, presumably out of the conviction that human welfare will be enhanced as a consequence. Thus, when viewed as an epistemic community, the overall enterprise of the expert members emerges as the product of a combination of shared beliefs and more subtle conformity pressures, rather than a direct drive for concurrence (Michael J. Mazarr). Epistemic communities also have a "normative component" meaning the end goal is always for the betterment of society, rather than self gain of the community itself (Peter M. Haas). In international relations and political science, an epistemic community can also be referred to as a global network of knowledge-based professionals in scientific and technological areas that often affect policy decisions. (en)