“For whom? By whom?”: critical perspectives of participation in ecological citizen science

Pauliina Rautio, Tuure Tammi, Tuomas Aivelo, Riikka Hohti, Anttoni Kervinen, Maria Saari

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review


This paper is a search for common ground between two natural scientists, two childhood studies and education scholars and two human-animal studies or critical animal studies scholars all working within a shared citizen science project. The search takes the form of a thematic mapping of existing literature on ecological citizen science, with two questions: "Participation on whose terms?", and "Participation for whose benefit?". First, we draw from the field of childhood studies to show how the concept of participation can be theorized further. Second, we recontextualize ecological citizen science research from a multispecies perspective, following the non-anthropocentric turn in human and social sciences which has so far drawn limited attention both in educational research and in citizen science projects. We proceed by critically treading the blurry line between predetermined or science-led participation and emergent or participant-led research, forming a fruitful space for examining and reconceptualizing the prevailing human/nature distinction in science and pedagogy. What we end up proposing is not so much a solution to the issues we have located, but rather an invitation to consider participation as a possibility for engaging with the ongoing tensions regarding the apparatuses of power that guide the research practices, researchers' thinking and ethics. For the democratic ethos of citizen science projects, these observations can result in an ongoing process of asking how would it be possible to make space for various knowledges to be regarded as such: How could different kinds of knowledge co-exist, potentially generating more just worlds?

Original languageEnglish
JournalCultural Studies of Science Education
Pages (from-to)765–793
Number of pages29
Publication statusPublished - Sep 2022
MoE publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed

Fields of Science

  • Childhood studies
  • Critical animal studies
  • Ecological citizen science
  • Human animal studies
  • Participation
  • 1172 Environmental sciences

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