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Mobilizing Science: Movements, Participation and the Remaking of Knowledge
  • Sabrina McCormick, University of Pennsylvania

Mobilizing Science theorizes and empirically explores the rise of a new kind of social movement – those that attempt to empower citizens through participation in and democratization of research. It draws from and advances theories of social movements, science and technology studies, and development by seeing their intersections in cases around the world. By focusing on the Brazilian anti-dam movement and the environmental breast cancer movement in the U.S., this research draws previously unseen connections and important lessons across movement activism in many different countries. These, and many other cases, show that the scientization of society, where expert knowledge is inculcated in multiple institutions and lay people are marginalized, gives rise to these movements. While activists who consequently engage in science often instigate methods that result in new findings and scientific tools, these movements often fail due to superficial participatory institutions and tightly knit corporate/government relationships.

"Mobilizing Science offers a sharp and focused analysis of the complicated relationship between scientists and lay-people in grassroots movements aimed at influencing policies on issues that have a strong technical component. McCormick grounds her arguments in two detailed cases that are extremely different in their overall contexts. Yet she is able to identify similar mechanisms at work, which have useful distinctions that are helpful in thinking about these types of movements more generally." —William Gamson, Professor of Sociology and Co-Director of the Media Research and Action Project at Boston College

"In this ambitious and impressive first book that is based on research on two continents, McCormick breaks new ground in the burgeoning literature on deliberative and participatory approaches to making technological decision-making more democratic. Among her contributions, she deepens the understanding of citizen-science alliances by exploring the mechanisms that make such alliances work and by analyzing the pathways that lead to their cooptation." —David J. Hess, Professor of Science and Technology Studies, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute

Publication Date
Temple University Press
Citation Information
Sabrina McCormick. Mobilizing Science: Movements, Participation and the Remaking of Knowledge. Philadelphia, PA(2009)
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