Citizen science: active citizenship vs. data commodification

Josep Perelló (Universitat de Barcelona)
Katja Mayer (Technical University of Munich)
Alexandra Albert (University of Manchester)
Martina Franzen (WZB Berlin Social Science Center )
FASS Building Meeting Room 2/3
Start time:
27 July, 2018 at 9:00
Session slots:

Short abstract:

There is a boom of initiatives calling for citizen involvement. Usually, participants are assigned a passive role by design, i.e. they are mainly confined to data gathering. We will explore barriers and opportunities for more systemic participation in research to create socially robust knowledge

Long abstract:

Digital technologies are increasingly facilitating the collective generation of data. Initiatives using crowdsourced data have mushroomed in a variety of fields such as science, politics, or industry. In scientific research, citizen science has been mostly motivated as a method to increase the scale and efficiency of data collection in a vast variety of disciplines, such as environmental science, astronomy, biology, and also social science such as political science, market research, sociology of social movements and urban planning. However, most initiatives working with citizen scientists include them only in certain steps of a research process (mainly data gathering and feedback tools), rather than systematically. Typically citizen scientists are excluded from research design, analysis, and interpretation. Despite the vast potential of active citizenship for evidence based "good governance", most of the time people are restricted to act as mere sensors, or data producers rather than data owners or advocates in their own right. Moreover, it is widely debated how sustainable the involvement of citizens via digital platforms can be, in terms of renewing or maintaining citizen enthusiasm and motivation to participate. In this panel, we aim at exploring different drivers/barriers to systemic participation of citizens in all research phases. How research should be transformed to allow active citizenship?. How can crowdsourced data initiatives, particularly in science, become sustainable? How can citizens become involved in more phases of the research process? How can be assured a fair use of the data produced? How to implement good standards in citizen science initiatives?