Integrated evidence for integrated food policy: the challenges and opportunities of citizen science and big data blurring the boundaries of evidence generators

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaper


Can integrated food policy be possible without generating integrated evidence that provides a comprehensive picture of the multidimensional character of highly complex, food and farming wicked problems? Are all policy proposals doomed to fail, and fail to achieve integrated policy if decisions are informed by only partial, fragmentary evidence? This paper explores challenges and opportunities that the rapid growth of citizen science might mean to the quest for integrated evidence, from the logistical barriers to include citizen-generated data in policy processes, to the constraints of bounded rationality. By presenting the case studies of citizen science and Citizen Observatories, this research examines the extent to which such data inclusion prompts (a) a wider source of information and participation, and (b) more concerted attention to major change in policy making and food systems. Evidence suggests the boundaries between food system actor categories are increasingly blurred, and furthermore, that traditional evidence-generating actors no longer have a monopoly over data. Big citizen-generated datasets are emerging, and with them an increased lack of capacity to regulate, process, quality assure, analyse, integrate and ethically-weight those data when informing policy. We consider the implications for power dynamics and actor status in the food policy arena, and how citizen-generated evidence might be lower in the hierarchy of knowledge (vs RCT) but might be higher in story telling capacity, which can result in higher impact at the policy level.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 3 Jul 2019
Event13th Spanish Congress of Sociology: Societies at the Crossroads and the Commitments of Sociology - Universitat de Valencia, Valencia, Spain
Duration: 3 Jul 20196 Jul 2019


Conference13th Spanish Congress of Sociology


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