Network strategies for generating expert knowledge on the Internet. Case study: genetically modified organisms and the corresponding Zika

Principal Investigator
mgr Magdalena Góralska
Overall budget
178 600 PLN
Project duration
27.12.2016 - 26.12.2020
Funded by
Ministry of Science and Higher Education

Aim of the project   The project aims to investigate the changes taking place in the process of constructing expert knowledge in the Internet age. The context for research is the dynamically changing role of science and scientific authorities in knowledge-creative and opinion-forming processes, including, in particular, the implementation of the latest technological solutions. The project disciplinarily fits into the theory of organization, a dynamically developing branch of social sciences, but it is interdisciplinary in nature, combining cultural anthropology with media science, management and science and technology studies. As part of the project, expert and non-expert groups of social actors involved in the process of constructing expert - scientific and professional - on-line knowledge will be examined. The research will focus on the different stages of this process. Strategies for articulating knowledge in research reports published on the Internet will be analyzed, as well as its collection, dissemination and legitimation in conventional media, on popular science, alter-scientific websites (offering information from the area of alternative knowledge systems) or in social media. During the research, the project implementer will focus on the following issues: changes in the status of expert knowledge, change in the definition of expertise, dynamics of expert knowledge exchange on the Internet, organization in information exchange networks. The emerging strategies for the distributed process of generating expert knowledge will be examined on the example of health and nutrition issues, in particular two cases: genetically modified organisms and the Zika virus. The research area will be primarily the Internet space - Polish knowledge transfer networks and international networks, mainly American, from which a lot of information comes from in Poland and Europe, as well as on a global scale. The proposed issues will be investigated with the use of qualitative methodology (multi-site ethnography, combining classical ethnographic methods with netnography), with an emphasis on in-depth ethnography of the organization, drawing from cultural anthropology.

Expected results

The final result of the proposed research project will be an in-depth analysis of the process of producing expert knowledge on the Internet, with particular emphasis on the democratization of its creation and legitimation, as well as the negotiation of hierarchy, authority, trust and identity in the context of its production by individual social actors. The analysis of the described problem will lead to a number of conclusions of practical importance, important not only for the theory of organization and management, but also for areas such as sociology and anthropology of knowledge, political science, as well as media studies, and science and technology studies (STS). The research results will also be important for improving the methods of developing effective techniques for popularizing scientific knowledge, including the implementation of the latest technological achievements, modernization of agriculture and health policy.