Mobilizing Science

Mobilizing Science: Movements, Participation, and the Remaking of Knowledge

Sabrina McCormick
Copyright Date: 2009
Published by: Temple University Press
Pages: 218
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  • Book Info
    Mobilizing Science
    Book Description:

    Mobilizing Sciencetheoretically and empirically explores the rise of a new kind of social movement-one that attempts to empower citizens through the use of expert scientific research. Sabrina McCormick advances theories of social movements, development, and science and technology studies by examining how these fields intersect in cases around the globe.

    McCormick grounds her argument in two very different case studies: the anti-dam movement in Brazil and the environmental breast cancer prevention movement in the U.S.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 new types of movements. While activists who consequently engage in science often instigate new methods that result in new findings and scientific tools, these movements still often fail due to superficial participatory institutions and tightly knit corporate/government relationships.

    eISBN: 978-1-4399-0011-6
    Subjects: General Science, Political Science

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. [i]-[iv])
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. [v]-[vi])
  3. Introduction
    (pp. 1-22)

    Claudia’s¹ graying teeth and limp hair meant she came from the farmlands. Periods of intense drought made food scarce and nutrition limited. Those farmlands, I had heard, bred some of the most radical protestors. Claudia was a perfect example. A righteous attitude complemented her stubborn nature. Taking no for an answer was never an option. She told me that she had not married because it would hold her back; macho Brazilian men and their ideas about a woman’s place were not worth her time or energy. She had instead given her life to the church in a way I did...

  4. 1 Democratizing Science Movements: Conditions for Success and Failure
    (pp. 23-46)

    This chapter describes what democratizing science movements attempt to do and why they may fail. Scholars have begun to report on these movements around the world and to theorize movement functioning. I build on their work to create a general typology of democratizing science movements. Although they may have very diverse goals, I argue that they have a common impetus—the process of scientization—that may stimulate them to arise and also cause them to fail (Voss 1996). Often, activists are calling for greater democracy of research and government, but success depends on whether activists can effectively participate in political...

  5. 2 The Environmental Breast Cancer Movement and the Scientific Basis for Contestation
    (pp. 47-60)

    Sharon¹ began attending a support group after she had a cancerous lump removed from her breast. Every week she traveled to a neighboring county where a group of women met. As her time with the group passed, it increased in size. Other support groups also formed in bordering towns. As the community taking shape among these women grew, they began to realize how many cases of breast cancer were in their area. At that time in the early 1990s, it had been more than twenty years since Happy Rockefeller and Betty Ford had gone public with their mastectomy experiences. Audre...

  6. 3 Dam Impacts and Anti-dam Protest
    (pp. 61-73)

    Slight, young, and as blonde as his German ancestors, Marcio¹ is a national leader of the movement of dam-affected people. At home among people of similar ancestry in the southern state of Santa Catarina in Brazil, Marcio does not stand out. Little of his time is spent at home, however. Mostly Marcio is on long bus rides between small cities. His daily activities are always focused on the one goal he has had for ten years, to organize dam-affected people. He moves between populations of affected people, who are generally compact, muscular, and brown from years of farming or fishing...

  7. 4 Government Institutions and Corporate Interests: Instigating Movement Challenge
    (pp. 74-94)

    One central reason that the anti-dam movement and the environmental breast cancer movement have engaged in science is their need to contest corporate interests that control it. Corporations fund and often shape the environmental impact assessments on which dam policy is based (Fearnside 2006), and consulting companies funded by industry test chemical safety about which EBCM activists are concerned (Cone 2007). Government institutions work in conjunction with these corporations, often by using their research in policy. In addition, governmental research trajectories often fall in line or work in tandem with those of larger, more powerful corporate interests. This chapter describes...

  8. 5 Democratizing Science
    (pp. 95-125)

    Kari¹ grew up in beautiful Washington State in a small town down the street from the Hanford Nuclear Site. Every day as she entered school, Kari walked by a poster of a mushroom cloud, a testament to the power and danger of the facility nearby. Some afternoons when she was alone in the house, Kari would answer the phone to hear the Hanford nuclear emergency test phone call shouting, “Red alert! Please stand by for roll call!” This monthly test and the nuclear threat were a part of normal life, much as the growing number of cancer deaths was becoming...

  9. 6 Democratizing Science as a Mechanism of Co-optation
    (pp. 126-141)

    Covered in dust from desertlike lands, Celia¹ was born and grew up in the northern region of Minas Gerais. Since colonial times, Minas has held the promise of stone-colored riches born from the labor of workers subservient to mineral-hungry elites. Lack of water kept this wealth from reaching northern Minas, where poverty spreads across dry plains. Minerians, as they are termed by Brazilians, are often small and tanned and speak much faster than people from other regions. Celia is a unique Minerian, tall and olive-skinned because of Arabic parentage. The imposing nature of Celia’s physical appearance is only augmented by...

  10. 7 Long-Term Struggles and Uncertain Futures
    (pp. 142-164)

    What does the future hold for democratizing science movements? Are we headed in a direction where science can serve as a pathway for democracy, or will it continue often to limit citizen influence? A plethora of the most controversial recent social debates have begged this question—from those over end-of-life decisions that the Terri Schiavo case raised (Koch 2005) to debates about intellectual property rights or bioprospecting in developing nations (Dorsey 2004), challenges to complex and value-laden science are being posed by nonexperts. Movements are forming in response, and policies are being made. This chapter examines the most recent and...

  11. 8 A Case for Making Science Accountable
    (pp. 165-176)

    Democratizing science movements are emerging around the world. Genetically modified organisms, nanotechnology, cloning, and many other ethically charged scientific advances are surrounded by conflict between their producers and consumers. These debates beg important questions about ownership, government oversight, and the role of civil society in decision making about scientific advances. Reflecting the diverse topics they contest, activists work under multiple conditions and are consequently able to achieve various goals. As a result, these movements are sometimes successful, but frequently they fail. This book has made a broad, sweeping attempt to review what these movements are and their outcomes. On the...

  12. Appendix: Abbreviations
    (pp. 177-178)
  13. References
    (pp. 179-204)
  14. Index
    (pp. 205-212)