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The epistemic culture in an online citizen science project: Programs, antiprograms and epistemic subjects.

Journal article
Authors Dick Kasperowski
Thomas Hillman
Published in Social Studies of Science
Volume 48
Issue 4
Pages 564-588
ISSN 0306-3127
Publication year 2018
Published at Department of Education, Communication and Learning
Department of Philosophy, Linguistics and Theory of Science
Pages 564-588
Language en
Keywords Anti-program, citizen science, epistemic culture, epistemic subject, Galaxy Zoo, program
Subject categories Cultural Studies, Social Sciences Interdisciplinary, Learning, Theory of science


In the past decade, some areas of science have begun turning to masses of online volunteers through open calls for generating and classifying very large sets of data. The purpose of this study is to investigate the epistemic culture of a large-scale online citizen science project, the Galaxy Zoo, that turns to volunteers for the classification of images of galaxies. For this task, we chose to apply the concepts of programs and antiprograms to examine the ‘essential tensions’ that arise in relation to the mobilizing values of a citizen science project and the epistemic subjects and cultures that are enacted by its volunteers. Our premise is that these tensions reveal central features of the epistemic subjects and distributed cognition of epistemic cultures in these large-scale citizen science projects.

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