Citizen Science and the Neoliberal Transformation of Science – an Ambivalent Relationship – Citizen Science: Theory and Practice – article

Citizen Science and the Neoliberal Transformation of Science – an Ambivalent Relationship

Katrin Vohland, Maike Weißpflug, Lisa Pettibone | Citizen Science: Theory and Practice

2019-10-22

The neoliberal turn in science has led to the economisation of knowledge, economic criteria for evaluating research, and a retreat of the state from governance of the scientific system. These steps have important ramifications for citizen science. On one hand, citizen science may add to the neoliberalization of science by filling gaps in “traditional science,” such as providing free environmental data or delivering public goods such as education or environmental knowledge. On the other hand, citizen science may provide a way to buck the trend of neoliberalization, by promoting new forms of societal cooperation and mutual learning that may lead to more social cohesion and sustainability, as well as safeguard a non-economized sphere. In this way, citizen science is ambivalent: It can either strengthen or challenge neoliberalization of science. This article describes this idea in more detail and presents practical suggestions for how to manage them, ranging from openly curated data over different types of feedback systems to the development of mutual learning spaces.

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