Re-situating participatory social research in Citizen Social Science
(Zentrum für Soziale Innovation GmbH)
Katja Mayer (University of Vienna)
Teresa Schaefer (Zentrum für Soziale Innovation GmbH)
Paper short abstract:
How can open and participatory Citizen Social Science produce robust social knowledge for decision making in inclusive ways? How can we assess and value the social robustness of such approaches and their results? What about the benefits for the participants?
Paper long abstract:
Participatory social research, in particular participatory action research, has a long tradition of working closely with research subjects. Focusing on how to best collaboratively understand social phenomena by changing them and reflecting the interventions could also be a core objective of a Citizen Social Science that goes beyond framing participation as social sensing or data collection. Openness is the agenda setting processes as well as in the research procedures is thus a vital aspect of such projects. This includes not only the opening of methods and data, where possible, it also encompasses the re-situation of evaluation procedures within the scope of the project.
This paper is based on a European project that aims at making the crossroads of Citizen Science and participatory social research productive. It enables citizens to co-design, intervene in, and improve data-driven decision-making processes in regard to issues of social inclusion. We will highlight major challenges and benefits of building an evaluation framework for such Citizen Social Science projects. Following the concept of impact literacy, evaluation procedures are co-designed and part of the project from the beginning, closely intertwined with a dynamic informed consent procedure. We believe - in line with principles of Responsible Research and Innovation (RRI) - that integrating the reflection of effect and impact is vital for the creation and transfer of and engagement with socially robust knowledge. However, participation alone does not democratise scientifically informed decision making, it is a matter of how to promote meaningful interaction among the societal stakeholders with the help of open and participatory Citizen Social Science.
Citizen science: active citizenship vs. data commodification