How can historians and social scientists make sense of a phenomenon that is mostly described having no past and as just emerging? Shouldn’t the Citizen Sciences, DIYbio and the Maker-Scene be simply left those doing and living it – to all the geeks, nerds, and active citizens out there claiming their right to participate in the production of scientific knowledge? Is it already useful or possible to reflect on their quest to redefine the boundaries between experts and amateurs? Can we connect these movement to the broader issues of professionalization and participation, which are not restricted to the popular figure of the amateur field naturalist? And if so: What would it mean to rethink science and public participation for, both, us as academics reflecting on this transformation in the this history of science, as well as for those citizens striving for participation?

A first step to approach this complex questions is to identify the scholarly fields in which public participation in science (broadly construed) has been addressed within the last decades. Interesting are in particular their (historically contingent) motives and their foci / topics. Therefore, during the first week of our team work, we charted the wide plains of activities and literature reflecting on public participation in science on different levels.

During the mapping process, we identified the following areas of research and (political) engagement in which public participation in science played (or still plays) a role:

  • scientific dissent (20th century)
  • science, performance, and spectacle (18th century)
  • amateur/popular science (19th and 20th century )
  • popularization of science (19th and 20th century)
  • action research (20th century)
  • science and democracy discourse
  • science policy and governance
  • sociology of expertise expertise
  • sociology of leisure
  • science education
  • craftsmanship
  • social movements theory
  • participation in (bio)medicine
  • technological innovation
  • open science
  • local knowledge cultures
  • computer history
  • big data studies

We are currently exploring these fields (and more) during our reading seminars. We will also create a literature-database and bibliographies, as part of our exploration, which will be made public.

In addition we defined a preliminary bibliography of twelve monographs and edited volumes which, in our opinion, constitute essential readings for anyone interested in understanding the the transformations of public participation in science:

  1. Chilvers, Jason, and Matthew Kearnes (Eds). Remaking Participation: Science, Environment and Emergent Publics. Abingdon, Oxon : Routledge, 2016.
  2. Moore, Kelly. Disrupting Science: Social Movements, American Scientists, and the Politics of the Military, 1945-1975. Princeton studies in cultural sociology. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2008.
  3. Irwin, Alan. Citizen Science: a Study of People, Expertise, and Sustainable Development. Environment and society. London ; New York: Routledge, 1995.
  4. Epstein, Steven. Impure Science: AIDS, Activism, and the Politics of Knowledge. Bd. 7. Univ of California Press, 1996.
  5. Delfanti, Alessandro. Biohackers: The Politics of Open Science. Pluto Press, 2013.
  6. Turner, Fred. From Counterculture to Cyberculture: Stewart Brand, the Whole Earth Network, and the rise of digital utopianism. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2006.
  7. Bowler, Peter J. Science for all: the popularization of science in early twentieth-century Britain. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2009.
  8. Collins, Harry M. Are We All Scientific Experts Now? New Human Frontiers Series. Cambridge: Polity, 2014.
  9. Brabham, Daren C. Crowdsourcing. Cambridge, Massachusetts: The MIT Press, 2013.
  10. Jasanoff, Sheila. States of Knowledge : The Co-Production of Science and Social Order. London: Routledge, 2004.
  11. Himanen, Pekka. The Hacker Ethic. A Radical Approach to the Philosophy of Business. Random House Trade Paperbacks, 2002.
  12. Maasen, Sabine, and Peter Weingart (Eds), Democratization of expertise?: exploring novel forms of scientific advice in political decision-making. Sociology of the sciences : a yearbook. Dordrecht ; London: Springer, 2008.

What would your list look like? Can you suggest other essential readings on this theme? Let’s make a participatory bibliography!

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