Buckets of Resistance: Standards and the Effectiveness of Citizen Science

TitleBuckets of Resistance: Standards and the Effectiveness of Citizen Science
Publication TypeJournal Article
AuthorsOttinger, Gwen
JournalScience, Technology, & Human Values
AbstractIn light of arguments that citizen science has the potential to make environmental knowledge and policy more robust and democratic, this article inquires into the factors that shape the ability of citizen science to actually influence scientists and decision makers. Using the case of community-based air toxics monitoring with ‘‘buckets,’’ it argues that citizen science’s effectiveness is significantly influenced by standards and standardized practices. It demonstrates that, on one hand, standards serve a boundary-bridging function that affords bucket monitoring data a crucial measure of legitimacy among experts. On the other hand, standards simultaneously serve a boundary-policing function, allowing experts to dismiss bucket data as irrelevant to the central project of air quality assessment. The article thus calls attention to standard setting as an important site of intervention for citizen science-based efforts to democratize science and policy.
Short TitleBuckets of Resistance