Is Citizen Science a Remedy for Inequality?

Published date01 March 2022
Date01 March 2022
Subject MatterInequalities
ANNALS, AAPSS, 700, March 2022 183
DOI: 10.1177/00027162221092697
Is Citizen
Science a
Remedy for
1092697ANN The Annals Of The American AcademyIs citizen science a remedy for inequality?
Is public engagement with science an effective
response to threats against science? One form of public
engagement—citizen science—might be especially
useful for addressing issues of inequality that threaten
public support for science. Citizen science is both pub-
lic participation in the scientific process and public
participation in the governance of science. In principle,
citizen science empowers marginalized communities to
participate in the scientific process, using the authority
of science to challenge government, industry, or other
institutions that exploit imbalances of social power. In
practice, however, citizen science can also be used to
redirect attention away from actions that address ine-
qualities and to reinforce modes of knowledge produc-
tion that exclude alternative ways of knowing relevant
to those without social power. Thus, rhetoric about
citizen science as a solution to threats against science
needs to be tempered with attention to specific con-
texts and opportunities.
Keywords: citizen science; inequality; public engage-
ment with science; trust
“Public engagement” is often presented as a
response to threats against science
(House of Lords 2000). Some defenders of sci-
ence equate public engagement with better
presentation of scientific information to gener-
ate “science literacy” and better public appre-
ciation of the benefits that science provides to
society. Others who are more critical of science’s
claim to universal, objective knowledge also
encourage public engagement, arguing that
involving more people in governance and prac-
tice of science will strengthen it against its own
limitations (Weingart, Joubert, and Connoway
Bruce V. Lewenstein is a professor of science communi-
cation at Cornell University in the Departments of
Communication and of Science & Technology Studies.
Trained as a historian of science, he works across the
field of public communication of science and technol-
ogy, including informal science education, citizen sci-
ence, and communication training for scientists.

To continue reading

Request your trial

VLEX uses login cookies to provide you with a better browsing experience. If you click on 'Accept' or continue browsing this site we consider that you accept our cookie policy. ACCEPT