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Science as a Lever: The Roles and Power of Civil Society Organisations in Citizen Science

Abstract : Citizen science has become an umbrella term that encompasses a growing range of activities, actors, and issues. This chapter examines the potential of citizen science to generate transformative knowledge and argues that civil society organisations (CSOs) are key actors in this regard. However, the roles of CSOs are neglected in the literature on citizen science. We turn to the traditions of community-based research and participatory action research to learn more. With two case studies on health and safety, we show how transformative knowledge enables concerned communities to claim their rights and enriches scientific knowledge generation. Through a socio-historical analysis, we find three main roles grassroots CSOs take on in participatory research: (1) a technical role in the production of data and knowledge; (2) a governance role in the deliberation on research activities and risk assessment; and (3) an advocacy role by campaigning for transformative knowledge. These roles determine the ability of grassroots CSOs to generate legitimacy and rely on CSO members belonging to different spheres of society, scientific skills, and access to marginalised communities. Finally, we discuss the conceptual and practical challenges of accounting for CSOs’ roles in order to build a more just and transformative future through citizen science.
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Submitted on : Tuesday, November 30, 2021 - 3:40:15 PM
Last modification on : Tuesday, March 22, 2022 - 3:51:09 PM


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Claudia Göbel, Lucile Ottolini, Annett Schulze. Science as a Lever: The Roles and Power of Civil Society Organisations in Citizen Science. Vohland, Katrin; Land-Zandstra, Anne; Ceccaroni, Luigi; Lemmens, Rob; Perello, Josep. The Science of Citizen Science, Springer International Publishing, pp.331-349, 2021, 978-3-030-58277-7. ⟨10.1007/978-3-030-58278-4_17⟩. ⟨ineris-03457434⟩



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