Building knowledge infrastructures for empowerment: A study of grassroots water monitoring networks in the Marcellus Shale

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

7 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

This paper characterizes the activities of two nongovernmental environmental monitoring networks working to protect watersheds in the Northeast United States from the impacts of shale oil and gas extraction. The fi rst is a grassroots coalition of advocacy groups. The second is a large network managed by academic institutions. In both cases, knowledge infrastructures were built to distribute resources and to assist members in using data to make scientifi c claims. I fi nd that the designs of these knowledge infrastructures can reproduce entrenched dynamics of power in ways that advance the agendas of some stakeholders more than others. However, fi ndings also suggest that the 'grassroots' of infrastructures can tactically alter power relationships and redistribute resources to their advantage. By bringing a discourse of power and empowerment into the study of knowledge infrastructures, this paper off ers a theoretical contribution to better understand the conditions by which marginalized stakeholders shape knowledge work to deal with complex scientifi c and environmental problems.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)26-43
Number of pages18
JournalScience and Technology Studies
Volume29
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jan 1 2016
Externally publishedYes

Fingerprint

Monitoring
Water
Empowerment
Knowledge Building
Stakeholders
Resources
Northeast
Environmental Problems
Advocacy
Gas
Power Relationships
Agenda
Discourse
Oil

Keywords

  • Citizen Science
  • Environmental Justice
  • Infrastructures
  • Public Empowerment

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • History and Philosophy of Science

Cite this

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title = "Building knowledge infrastructures for empowerment: A study of grassroots water monitoring networks in the Marcellus Shale",
abstract = "This paper characterizes the activities of two nongovernmental environmental monitoring networks working to protect watersheds in the Northeast United States from the impacts of shale oil and gas extraction. The fi rst is a grassroots coalition of advocacy groups. The second is a large network managed by academic institutions. In both cases, knowledge infrastructures were built to distribute resources and to assist members in using data to make scientifi c claims. I fi nd that the designs of these knowledge infrastructures can reproduce entrenched dynamics of power in ways that advance the agendas of some stakeholders more than others. However, fi ndings also suggest that the 'grassroots' of infrastructures can tactically alter power relationships and redistribute resources to their advantage. By bringing a discourse of power and empowerment into the study of knowledge infrastructures, this paper off ers a theoretical contribution to better understand the conditions by which marginalized stakeholders shape knowledge work to deal with complex scientifi c and environmental problems.",
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