Domesticating and democratizing science: A geography of do-it-yourself biology

Abstract : By turning private homes and community spaces into sites where biological experimentation can be carried out, do- it- yourself biology promises a democratization of science. This democratization is based upon material processes: efforts to increase the affordability, accessibility and mutability of scientific equipment can be observed. In particular, do- it-yourself biology relies on ‘creative workarounds’ around objects (to transform and combine them in novel ways) and institutions (to circumvent established university–industry business linkages). I call this process ‘amaterialization’: equipment is opened up to amateurs and redistributed across social worlds; technically transformed and redesigned; and alongside material artefacts, we see a proliferation and an increasing circulation of non-material entities (texts, information, videos, etc.). By tinkering with objects and sharing knowledge via various communicative devices – websites, blogs, wikis, forums, videos – do-it-yourself biologists aim to create a new, collective and open economy of scientific equipment and render biology more accessible to citizens. A distinct form of individuality is constituted by providing people with access, transforming them into active makers of science, making their bodies/ailments more knowable and demonstrating that one can do it oneself. Do- it-yourself biology thus offers a site for exploring the ethics, boundaries and new forms of sociability for biology.
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Morgan Meyer. Domesticating and democratizing science: A geography of do-it-yourself biology. BSA Annual Conference 2014 - Changing Society, British Sociological Association (BSA); University of Leeds, Apr 2014, Leeds, United Kingdom. ⟨hal-01561044⟩

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