„How to Use Actor Network Theory to Research Human and Non-Human Actors in Citizen
Science-Driven Interventions“

Rina Vijayasundaram

This presentation focuses on using Actor Network Theory to study citizen science-driven interventions in the City of Aarhus, Denmark. I wish to discuss how Actor Network Theory can be used to study how the city works with both human and non-human actors when trying to solve environmental problems with citizen science within a smart city ecosystem.
First, I explain the findings from the study of Aarhus’ two interventions in the Horizon 2020 EU project DivAirCity. Studies have shown that air quality is the worst for the more diverse groups in the city, as they often live closer together due to their economic situation. The project seeks to improve environmental, health and social conditions in cities by prioritising participation of the groups deemed most at risk. The two interventions in Aarhus are focused on 1) creating an alternative route with better air quality for wheelchair users, and 2) making a green screen and pocket park with better air quality together with locals. I will also briefly explain the ethnographic methods used for my case
study, such as interviews and participatory observations (Tracy, 2013; Charmaz, 2007).
My current case study has two aims: 1) to understand how the citizens are being involved in the smart city ecosystem of Aarhus, and 2) how this work to empower citizens to help design and carry out citizen science-driven research has also given the air itself agency. I wish to discuss how, when the city works with citizen science to solve an environmental problem, the environment also gets an opportunity to gain agency. I will speak about translation (Callon, 1986) in regard to both the wheelchair users and the air, and what the involvement of both citizens and nature means for this specific citizen science project and its goals and outcomes.
The study is still on-going, and so my presentation will focus on the findings so far and open up for discussions on the opportunities and limitations that Actor Network Theory analysis may have when being used to study a citizen science case.

Citizen Science, Invasive Species, and Collaborative Discoveries

Yaela N Golumbic

Over the past decade, the field of citizen science has experienced significant growth as a tool to advance scientific research alongside public engagement, fostering dialogue between citizens and scientists. Within the realm, one of the most widespread domains of research is biodiversity monitoring, particularly the identification of invasive species. While such research holds significant importance for early detection and environmental management, many scientists express reservations about the reliability of citizen science data and encounter challenges in effectively engaging with the public.

This study tracks the discovery of three invasive species facilitated by the involvement of citizen scientists. The study has two main objectives: (a) to examine various methods of public engagement in research and the advantages and disadvantages of each method for science, society, and participants; and (b) to examine the perceptions and practices of scientists who were involved in the discoveries, regarding citizen science and public engagement in science. The presentation will present findings from interviews with scientists involved in invasive species discoveries and analyze data from citizen science reporting platforms.

This study highlights the importance of citizen science projects for both science and society and at the same time the existing tension between citizen science’s contribution to science and its contribution to society. It raises the challenges in implementing citizen science in practice, discusses the role of technology, and offers a way to actively encourage public participation by changing the way scientific knowledge is created and making it relevant, transparent and accessible to the general public.

„Allies of expertise: how citizens defend the epistemic authority of science“

Katharina Berr

Citizens contribute to science. In academic discourse and science policy programs, there is a general consensus that lay engagement is a prerequisite for fostering closer relations between science and society (Davies & Horst, 2016). However, in their efforts to evaluate and enable citizens’ role in science, institutional actors tend to build on paradoxical and idealized views of both lay engagement and science itself. As critical scholars point out: laypeople are to do both, actively participate in a democratized science but also put their trust in the authority of scientific experts (Weingart et al., 2021). Moreover, lay engagement is often imagined as a merely rational endeavor that ought to result in more rational debate and decision-making (Chilvers & Kearnes, 2020). In reality, citizens engage with science in different ways and for different
reasons; and not always in accordance with the expectations of academic discourse or science policy programs (Horst & Michael, 2011; Mendel & Riesch, 2017; Panofsky & Donovan, 2019).
This study draws on a two-year digital ethnography of an online community of science fans who organized in the context of Covid-19 and with the goal of disseminating and defending (what they regard as) scientific expertise against (what they regard as) anti-science phenomena. Based on this empirical case, I conceptualize an overlooked role of citizens contributing to science: allies of expertise. Different to citizen scientists (neither in the sense of Bonney et al.,
2009, nor of Irwin, 1995) or lay experts (Epstein, 2023), these allies do not claim insight or stakes in scientific work. Instead, they aim to contribute by bolstering the epistemic authority of science, which they perceive as threatened and in need of support. It is important to better understand their motivations and practices, since they somewhat contradict previous academic and policy interventions to democratize science.
At the moment, I am working on ideas on how to “give back” to the community I observed. I would like to to present and discuss the concept of “allies of
expertise”, but also reflect on ways in which insights from STS research and citizen science practice could benefit citizens when engaging in this role.

Citizen science and post-normal science: mapping how participation disrupt decision making

Muki Haklay

See paper: Mordechai Haklay, Ariane König, Fabien Moustard, Nicolle Aspee, Citizen science and Post-Normal Science’s extended peer community: Identifying overlaps by mapping typologies, Futures,
Volume 150, 2023, 103178, ISSN 0016-3287, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.futures.2023.103178.

„Beyond Boundaries: Citizen Science, Making, and the Challenge of Institutionalization“

Dana Mahr

This presentation explores the complex processes of institutionalization and professionalization within the realm of citizen science, emphasizing its impact on the definition, boundaries, and inclusivity of participatory research. The institutionalization of citizen science involves the creation of formal structures such as departments, research centers, and academic programs, often guided by top-down categorizations and taxonomies. 

Examining participatory research in the context of citizen science, the presentation scrutinizes attempts to define boundaries and categorize different forms of participation. It discusses the typologies used, such as Rick Bonney’s distinction between „contributory“ and „collaborative“ projects, and Andrea Wiggins and Kevin Crowstone’s five forms of participatory research. The hierarchical nature of these categorizations is highlighted, often favoring projects initiated by professionals and originating from a genuine academic perspective.

The talk also delves into the realm of maker spaces, such as BioCurious, Genspace, and La Paillasse, where the „hacker ethos“ guides hands-on knowledge production. These spaces, focusing on DIYbio and biohacking, operate outside traditional institutionalized structures, often excluded from mainstream definitions of citizen science. The exploration of nanotechnology exemplifies the divergence in interests between institutionalized citizen science and the maker sphere.

The presentation argues that the institutionalization of citizen science, driven by predetermined academic constraints, risks stifling innovation and limiting the diversity of epistemic practices. While acknowledging the need for quality standards, the talk emphasizes the importance of retaining a broader understanding of citizen science, incorporating local, bottom-up practices, and recognizing the value of diverse knowledge production beyond institutional boundaries. It calls for critical monitoring of the institutionalization of citizen sciences to ensure the preservation of innovative perspectives that challenge and transcend established norms.

„Science and technology studies on critical data analysis and – literacy by and with Citizens in Citizen Sciences – Disapproved (Data) Sciences?“

Sophia Segler & Julia Gantenberg

Referring to Alan Irwin’s (1995) holistic citizen science approach, in this colloquium we want to address questions about the implementation and role of citizen science in the analysis of data of scientifically collected primary data, especially such as data generated by laypersons by means of „crowdsourcing“ (Salganik 2018), as well as secondary data sets. In the course of the digital revolution and datafication, we can observe that many citizen science projects, in particular in the field of environmental (citizen) science, involve citizens in the data collection process, which is then often analyzed by expert scientists themselves in the „black box“ of data processing (Franzen et al. 2021: 192) and its interpretation. Often, the results and findings from one or more data sources are only made (re)available to a public audience after the data has been analyzed exclusively by expert scientists, not necessarily by or with citizen scientists. In particular, the power of the digital revolution makes it more accessible to use
crowdsourcing methods to collect data for science and thus to access field data that would not be producible for scientists using conventional methods without an approach of crowdsourcing.
However, this raises the core issue of defining the membranes of citizens, science and citizen science, which is a topic of recurrent discussion in Science and Technology Studies (STS) and citizen science, but less so with regard to its definition in the field of co-interpretation of data and related data processing and literacy skills. Therefore, we want to focus on the research step of data analysis in STS and citizen science and launch a discussion about the arenas in which data analysis by or with citizens is already good practice and where it is not? How are arenas for data analysis with or by citizens designed and when do these domains remain restricted? How can good practices of citizen science be applied in data analysis to enable critical data analysis of quality, co- interpreted by and with citizen scientists? How does quantitative data differ from qualitative data in this regard? What is the main difference in data analysis with or by citizen scientists compared to professional science?
In order to achieve a deeper understanding of these important debates and to discuss arenas of STS on data analysis and literacy skills by and with citizen scientists together, we would first like to provide an overview of the field of applied citizen science in data analysis. In a second step, we will present first conclusions of STS research on co-interpreting data by and with citizen scientists to approach the questions raised above and finally, based on a collegial discussion, identify open STS research on this basis.

Geschützt: STS and CS Colloquium Programme and Infos

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STS and Citizen Science

Collaborative event to the ECSA2024 conference

02.04.2024, 13:00-19:00

University of Vienna, Universitätsring 1 (main entrance), room Marietta-Blau-Saal

Convened by Katja Mayer (Science and Technology Studies, Uni Vienna), Claudia Göbel (Sociology, Uni Mainz) and the Citizen Science Team of ZSI Center for Social Innovation, Vienna

Engaging with participatory research, technology development and science communication has been a driving force in the development of Science and Technology Studies. In the field of Citizen Science, where these and other themes converge, the paths of many people involved with STS in one way or another are crossing. Already the inception of the field is closely linked to STS with Alan Irwin’s (1995) concept of Citizen Science as a reference point and there is a growing number of STS researchers studying Citizen Science as their research object. However, the boundaries between doing STS and doing Citizen Science have always been permeable giving rise to a rich tradition of mutual engagement. Scholars from other academic backgrounds and Citizen Science practitioners draw on STS concepts and methodologies, while STS researchers get involved with Citizen Science projects, platforms and organisations. These engagements have been and continue to be vital for shaping participatory practice, research and the field of Citizen Science. Yet, strikingly, this vibrant cross-pollination is conspicuously absent at mainstream STS and CS conferences. Despite frequent citations, STS research on Citizen Science seems content in its academic enclave, barely breaching the dynamic, hands-on realm of actual Citizen Science implementation.

We would like to use the ECSA2024 conference in Vienna as an opportunity to come together and discuss STS research on, with and through Citizen Science, and vice versa. Which current initiatives are underway? Are there common empirical, conceptual or methodological themes and challenges? What are the difficulties of working across research/practice and disciplinary boundaries? The idea is to meet for an informal exchange focusing on work-in-progress, rather than polished publications, and letting conversations emerge from there. Participants are invited to present with no formal restrictions on the nature and format of contributions (apart from time).

Schedule: We will start with an optional joint lunch at 12:00 at Gasthaus Holunderstrauch, the colloquium will begin at 13:00 and run until 19:00.

Programme link for participants (password protected)

Previous events focussing on the intersection of STS and CS:

Workshop „Citizen Sciences Studies“, 2016, Berlin

The workshop examined how to co-produce reflexiveness and dialogue between practitioners and researchers of citizen science. It was co-organized as a session at the first international conference of the European Citizen Science Association (ECSA) by Claudia Göbel, Katrin Vohland, Dana Mahr and Alan Irwin. A book chapter came out of it: https://www.jstor.org/stable/j.ctv550cf2.14

Workshop „Empowering civil society through participatory investigation?“, 2019, Paris

The event was dedicated to exploring new types of interactions between science and society, which we called participatory investigation, and how such interactions can contribute to the empowerment of civil society. We discussed such interactions from the perspective of civil society organisations (NGOs), a point of view that had so far been largely neglected, at least in the European citizen science community. The workshop was organised in collaboration by European Citizen Science Association (ECSA), especially the H2020 project Doing it Together Science (DITOs), Pour une alliance sciences en société (ALLISS), Institut francilien recherche, innovation, société (IFRIS), Laboratoire Interdisciplinaire Sciences Innovations Sociétés (LISIS) and the Living Knowledge Network (LKN). Here’s the report: https://doi.org/10.5281/zenodo.3522369

Politics of Open Infrastructures

Exploring open digital knowledge infrastructures and socio-political dynamics

Call for contributions

Editors: Astrid Mager, Katja Mayer, Renée Ridgway

Please submit your abstract for review by January 31, 2024. The abstract should be 500 words. Final chapters should be around 6,000 words max., including the bibliography. For more details, click the links below.

Language and Open Access

Open infrastructures come in different shapes and sizes. Ranging from small community networks to large-scale data infrastructures, they all share an emphasis on collaborative development and a collective benefit from use. They prioritize accessibility, transparency, and inclusivity and thereby challenge traditional notions of hierarchy and control, advocating for more decentralized, participatory approaches to managing and using these vital resources. The movement towards commoning data and infrastructures marks a shift from individual ownership and consumption to collective stewardship and communal advantages. Encompassing practices in science, culture, education, administration and welfare, the act of opening up infrastructures is contigent on the interplay between human organisation and specific social activities (Star 1999, Bowker and Star 2006), aligning with the idea of “infrastructuring” openness. 

„Infrastructuring“ openness refers to the ongoing, sometimes participatory processes of designing and modifying infrastructure systems to promote open access, open methods, inclusivity, collaboration, and adaptability in a way that they become embedded into everyday practices and support diverse user needs. Within the regulatory frameworks of Europe’s emphasis on “digital sovereignty,” open infrastructures, especially open source initiatives, are garnering significant political interest. However, openness faces several challenges, including the commercial capture of open technologies and issues related to community governance and the distribution of responsibilities. Thus, the question arises: how might open infrastructures contribute to sustainable liveable futures within the political, technological and cultural fabrics of society?

The forthcoming book, „Politics of Open Infrastructures,“ addresses the variety of open infrastructures by examining open digital knowledge infrastructures and their complex interrelations with socio-political dynamics. Knowledge infrastructures, in their broadest sense, comprise robust networks of people, artifacts, and institutions that generate, share, and maintain specific knowledge about the human and natural worlds (Edwards 2010). They are often based on digital platforms and open-source principles ensuring that knowledge resources, such as scientific research, educational materials, public services, application programming interfaces (APIs) and standards are freely available, yet they are sometimes also modifiable, governed by their communities of users. This notion of politics highlights that open infrastructures are not neutral, technical artifacts (Winner 1980) but rather intertwined with values and power relations that influence their design, implementation, and impact on society. We therefore emphasize the role of infrastructures in creating and reinforcing social order, and vice versa, where decisions about infrastructure development and maintenance can have significant implications for social inclusion, access to resources, and the distribution of power.

The collection of chapters in this book will provide a multi-faceted exploration of open digital knowledge infrastructures, a critical area where traditional positions on technology development, knowledge production, and social innovation are contested. It will delve into various aspects of such infrastructures, examining how they serve as sites for connection, collaborative creation, shared resources and new models for collective action or governance. The book scrutinizes embodied principles and values in processes of “infrastructuring” openness, while also navigating the complexities of responsibility, sustainability, and ethical considerations. Through a diverse range of perspectives, this collection reveals how open digital knowledge infrastructures are not only technical frameworks or resources but also instruments of social change, shaping and being shaped by specific politics.


Specifically focusing on the “politics” of open infrastructures, we invite contributions that investigate the complex relations between the making and governing of open digital knowledge infrastructures and socio-political dynamics. By reflecting on how such infrastructures are shaping and being shaped by societal structures and values, we encourage a critical examination of how these systems are designed, who they serve, and what social and political orders they might perpetuate or challenge. 

The following are suggestive:

    •    Theorizing Open Infrastructures (OI): What are the theoretical underpinnings of openness in the context of digital knowledge infrastructures, their historical evolution, and the foundational principles that distinguish them from other infrastructure types? What analytical tools can help to analyze digital knowledge and data infrastructures, develop a critical stance, and draw key learnings from existing research?

    •    OI Development and “Infrastructuring” Openness: Providing empirical research on the notion of openness in the development of open digital knowledge infrastructures, highlighting successes, challenges, and lessons learned. Investigating practices of “infrastructuring” openness in the context of digital and data infrastructures, research communities, communing of civic data, and the welfare state.

    •    Governance of OI: Analyzing governance structures in open digital knowledge infrastructures, their effectiveness, challenges, and impacts on labor conditions, sustainability and scalability. Discussing modes of participation, the role of community engagement, and modes of collaboration and decision making in the development and maintenance of such infrastructures.

    •    OI, Public Policy and Regulation: Examining the intersection of open digital knowledge infrastructures and public policy, including regulatory challenges and opportunities for governmental collaboration. How are such infrastructures reflected in discourses on digital sovereignty and national interests?

    •    Open Data and Knowledge Sharing: How do digital infrastructures facilitate the sharing of data and knowledge and impact research, innovation, and public policy? Exploring the politics of opening data and knowledge infrastructures for the public good, opportunities and challenges in the opening of data from public and private sectors, practices of repurposing data for the common good.

    •    Political Economy of OI: Assessing the economic values inscribed in open digital knowledge infrastructures as well as their business models and economic impacts. What kind of resource can they become, how are they shaped by ideologies? What about their relationship with commercial actors, who is actively contributing to such infrastructures and who is benefitting? 

    •    Technological Challenges and Ethical Considerations: Exploring the technological hurdles and advancements in open/ing digital knowledge infrastructures, including scalability, interoperability, and resilience. Analyzing the creation of open infrastructures and digital platforms, open source software, standards, and licenses, metadata and open APIs. Delving into the ethical aspects of open digital knowledge infrastructures, including issues of justice, inclusion, privacy, data security, and the responsibility to various stakeholders.

    •    Democratic Potential and Impact of OI: How do open digital knowledge infrastructures facilitate democratic values, participation, and community-building? How does the opening of public sector data and infrastructures contribute to the fostering of the welfare state? What are the anti-democratic implications of open knowledge infrastructures and digital platforms and how to contain them?

    •    Impact and Evaluating OI: Analyzing the impact of open/ing digital infrastructures on educational systems, academic research, and the welfare state – including case studies of open-access publishing, open educational resources, and the opening of administrative data for the public good. How are open digital knowledge infrastructures assessed and evaluated and what kinds of audit regimes should be developed in the future?

    •    Global Perspectives and Cultural Contexts: Comparing open digital knowledge infrastructures across different cultural and geopolitical contexts, exploring how geo-political and cultural variations influence their development and adoption. How do open knowledge infrastructures and digital platforms be/come sites of activism, resistance and alternative imaginaries in different parts of the world? And how to foster social justice through the open/ing of digital knowledge infrastructures and platforms?

Key Dates 

Jan 31, 2024: Abstracts (500 words) due

March 1, 2024: Notification of acceptance

October 1, 2024: Chapters due to editors

November 15, 2024: Editors send out to peer review

January 15, 2025: Review deadline

March 1, 2025: final chapters submitted

Expected publication date: End of 2025

Formats, Language and Open Access

In addition to original research chapters, the book is open to other forms of publishing, including but not limited to interviews, data visualisations and visual ephemera augmenting textual contributions. The book will be in English and Open Access without BPC for the authors. 

We are presently in negotiation with publisher De Gruyter

Contact email


Hello world!

Welcome to my website. It is currently under construction. Please refer to my project page: https://odp.univie.ac.at/



Short CV:

As sociologist, Katja Mayer is employing her expertise at the crossroads of science, technology, and society. She has been contributing as a senior postdoc at the Department of Science and Technology Studies at the University of Vienna since 2019. There, she applies a critical perspective to the politics of open science and open data, with a specific focus on citizen science, computational social sciences and artificial intelligence.

Her academic journey exhibits an unwavering dedication to exploring the intricate relationships between technology and society. For her master’s degree, she engaged in an in-depth exploration of the social construction of speech recognition technologies. Her PhD work, in turn, investigated the visual cultures that form the foundation of social network analysis and data science. Mayer’s long-standing interest lies in the interactions between social scientific methods and society itself, considering how these methods both mirror and shape the societies they seek to study, thus adding a nuanced dimension to the contemporary dialogue on the social implications of scientific practices.

Prior to fully committing herself to academia, Mayer garnered practical experience in the IT industry, serving as a consultant and a knowledge management expert. She also spent time in the field of information retrieval. This hands-on engagement with applied knowledge production fields provided her with a thorough understanding of IT systems, infrastructures, business landscapes, and data extraction methodologies, insights that would later inform her research and teaching pursuits.

Her passion for science led her to the role of research advisor to the President of the European Research Council (ERC). In this capacity, she dedicated her expertise to the disciplines of social sciences, humanities, and arts-based research. After her tenure at the ERC, she joined the newly established chair of Computational Social Sciences and Big Data at TU Munich. There, she maintained a strong focus on social media research and pioneered the incorporation of Critical Data Studies in teaching political and computer scientists, particularly emphasizing data-driven decision making.

Mayer’s academic contributions were recognized with the prestigious Elise Richter Fellowship (FWF) in 2019. This award, aimed at advancing the work of remarkable female scholars, facilitated her current role at the Department of Science and Technology Studies, University of Vienna, where she also participates in the research platform: Governance of Digital Practices.
Beyond research, Mayer holds the title of Senior Scientist at the Center for Social Innovation in Vienna and serves as an Associate Researcher at the University of Vienna’s platform „Responsible Research and Innovation in Scientific Practice„. She has taught a range of subjects, including Sociology, STS, and Web Sciences, at several institutions such as the University of Vienna, the Danube University Krems, the University of Art and Design Linz, and the University of Lucerne.

Mayer has broadened her academic perspective as a visiting fellow at the School of Computer Science at Carnegie Mellon University (USA). She also engages in Open Science policy, contributed as an active member of the Open Access Network Austria (OANA), where she co-led a working group tasked with developing a „National Strategy for the Transition to Open Science„.

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