Toogood, Mark and Everett, Glyn
Engaging Publics: Biodiversity Data Collection and the Geographies of Citizen Science.
ISSN Online ISSN: 1749-8198
Official URL: http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/journal/10.1111/%28...
This paper addresses the role of public participation in biological monitoring, reviewing a range of cross-disciplinary insights and critiques that are important for recent debate in environmental geographies. The review draws on a range of case studies of participatory initiatives including on our own research. We identify normative, instrumental and substantive motivations for organising participatory initiatives and address the tensions within these. In particular, we focus on claims about public engagement in conducting science as delivering social benefits such as increased knowledge of biodiversity issues, that doing science can be 'social learning', and suggestions that engagement in science will change attitudes and environmental behaviour.
We contend that there are not only tensions around attempts to juggle normative and instrumental ambitions in participatory initiatives, there are further important issues about the politics of knowledge such as: the mutability of boundaries between participants (especially between professional and non-professional science); the purposes and uses of the gathered data; the disparity of objectives, that range from science outcomes to social design, and anxieties around relations between data quality and the breadth of participation. There is also a reductive assumption that engagement will lead to foreseeable changes in values and behaviours, and a problem with particular framings of citizenship that may actually constrain and limit critical public engagement with biodiversity politics.
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