11 June 2013

The preserve of professionals?

On citizen science, Muki Haklay writes:
"...by definition, citizen science can only exist in a world in which science is socially constructed as the preserve of professional scientists in academic institutions and industry because, otherwise, any person who is involved in a scientific project would simply be considered a contributor and, potentially, a scientist. ...[U]ntil the late 19th century, science was mainly developed by people who had additional sources of employment that allowed them to spend time on data collection and analysis. Famously, Charles Darwin joined the Beagle voyage, not as a professional naturalist but as a companion to Captain FitzRoy. Thus, in that era, almost all science was citizen science albeit mostly by affluent gentlemen and gentlewomen scientists."
It's an interesting point. What other elements of our society and culture do we consider the preserve of professionals? Am I a citizen athlete, citizen chef or citizen seamstress?

1 comment:

gaverne said...

I think this is a really important question.

I have often thought about the fact Darwin was not "scientist" who was teaching in a university is really significant.

In fact if we look at the greatest scientific breakthroughs before WW2 - Einstein & relativity, Freud & psychology, and of course Darwin we see that many of these "scientists" did not work as scientists in institutions when they made their breakthroughs.

I think there is a world of amateur scientists out there that has been neglected since WW2.

Anyway, I thought you might be interested in this wall chart I put together celebrating the lives of women scientists.


My hope is that the next scientist to make a breakthrough as significant as Einstein or Newton will be a woman.

Or failing that the first human being to set foot on another planet, namely Mars, will be a woman.