Citizen Science in Deliberative Systems: Participation, Epistemic Injustice, and Civic Empowerment

Lisa Herzog*, Robert Lepenies

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


In this paper, we bring together the literature on citizen science and on deliberative democracy and epistemic injustice. We argue that citizen science can be seen as one element of "deliberative systems," as described by Mansbridge et al. But in order to fulfil its democratic potential, citizen science needs to be attentive to various forms of exclusion and epistemic injustice, as analyzed by Fricker, Medina and others. Moreover, to tap the potentials of citizen science from the perspective of deliberative democracy, it needs to move towards a more empowered approach, in which citizens do not only deliver data points, but also, in invited or uninvited settings, participate in discussions about the goals and implications of research. Integrating citizen science into the deliberative systems approach embeds it in a broader framework of democratic theory and suggests the transmission of certain practical strategies (e.g., randomized sampling). It can also contribute to realism about both the potentials and the limits of citizen science. As part of a deliberative system, citizen science cannot, and need not, be the only place in which reforms are necessary for creating stronger ties between science and society and for aligning science with democratic values.

Original languageEnglish
Number of pages20
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 9-May-2022


  • Citizen science
  • Epistemic injustice
  • Deliberative systems
  • Citizen empowerment
  • Environmental justice

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