Protesting populist knowledge practices: collective effervescence at the March for Science London

Neil Stephens, Photini Vrikki, Hauke Riesch, Olwenn Martin

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Abstract

On 22 April 2017, 10,000 people joined the March for Science London, one of 600 events globally asserting the importance of science against post-truth. Here we report an online and on-the-ground observational study of the London event in its distinct, post-Brexit referendum context. We analyse the motives for marchers’ attendance, and their collective enactment of what science is and why and by what it is threatened. Drawing upon Interaction Ritual Theory and the concept of civic epistemology, we develop the notion of populist knowledge practices to capture the ‘other’ that marchers defined themselves against. We detail how this was performed, and how it articulated a particular vision for science–society relations in Britain. In closing, we argue that the March for Science is one in a chain of anti-populist activist events that retains collective effervescence while transcending specific framings.
Original languageEnglish
JournalCultural Sociology
Early online date6 Sep 2021
DOIs
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 6 Sep 2021

Keywords

  • activism
  • Brexit
  • civic epistemology
  • expertise
  • March for Science
  • observation
  • populism
  • protest

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