There has been a remarkable growth of activity in the field known as ‘citizen science’ over the last few years. The February 2015 inaugural conference of the Citizen Science Association, held in California, brought together over 600 people. There is also a European Citizen Science Association (ECSA) supported by organizations from over 10 countries, and, since 2014, a Citizen Science Network Australia (CSNA). As the ECSA website proclaims: ‘Citizens create knowledge – Knowledge creates citizens.’ Meanwhile, the Zooniverse website lists a range of projects across Space, Climate, Humanities, Nature, Biology and Physics: ‘We make citizen science websites so that everyone can be part of real research online.’
The question I wish to explore in this session concerns how social scientists in particular are to view the phenomenon of Citizen Science. Put simply, does it represent no more than an extension of science by other means or might it raise new questions concerning the nature of ’knowledge politics’? Whilst there might not be a categorical answer to this question, I do believe that it raises significant issues concerning the form and direction of contemporary socio-technical relations.
Alan Irwin is Professor in the Department of Organization and Vice President for Entrepreneurship and Innovation at Copenhagen Business School (CBS). His PhD is from the University of Manchester. From 2007-14, he was Dean of Research at CBS. He was also Acting President during 2011. He has held appointments at the University of Manchester, Brunel University and the University of Liverpool.
Alan Irwin has published over a number of years on issues of science and technology policy, scientific governance, risk management and science-public relations. In 1995, he published Citizen Science (Routledge). He was awarded the first David Edge prize for his paper 'The politics of talk: coming to terms with the "new" scientific governance' ( Social Studies of Science 36:2, 2006). He is a Fellow of the Academy of Social Sciences and a foreign member of the Royal Danish Academy of Sciences and Letters.