Accepted paper:

Collaborative Science and Knowledge Justice in a French Industrial Region


Barbara Allen (Virginia Tech)
Alison Cohen (University of California, Berkeley)
Yolaine Ferrier (Centre Norbert Elias CNRS UMR 8562)
Johanna Lees (Centre Nobert Elias)

Paper short abstract:

Using a participatory environmental health study we are conducting in France, we demonstrate a new frame for regulatory science: "knowledge justice." We argue that collaborative science informed by STS is an important step in making socially just science for communities and policy-makers alike.

Paper long abstract:

Using a project we are conducting in a southern French industrial region, we argue that community-based, participatory health science informed by science and technology studies (STS) is key for developing research that will be relevant to community residents and leaders and demonstrate a new frame for regulatory science: "knowledge justice." The inspiration for this study arose from in-depth sociological and anthropological interviews about how local residents and stakeholders used data to inform advocacy and decision-making, and that research identified a gap in scientific evidence about the health burden associated with living near major sources of industrial pollution. Our community-based multidisciplinary approach included the residents at every step of the process, from helping identify topics in the survey, to helping analyze and make sense of the findings through epidemiologic and biostatistical analysis of quantitative data, and sociology-informed qualitative analyses. The last phase of the project will be brainstorming with the residents for next steps, tying back to the STS ideas that inspired the project originally. At the end of our project, in service of promoting social justice through science, the residents will own their own data, own the survey instrument that they helped construct, and they will understand what the data means from a perspective that they define. We show how successful outcomes--defined in multi-perspectival ways-- align with the "just" making of science or "knowledge justice."

panel T081
Science and Technology for Social Justice