Many would say no, because they understand science to be a system of broadly accepted methods which result in predictable outcomes. Activism is unpredictable, they would argue. It cannot be easily categorized.
But that is not what science is.
Science is a systematic enterprise that builds and organizes knowledge in theÂ form of testable explanations and (later) predictions. Â It is a form of purposeful collective action that seeks to build knowledge through processes that use evidence as a means of establishing validity for arguments.
There is nothing particularly digital about a scientific recasting of activism, yet it is an ambition consonant with the digital age. Â Digital technology – through massive storage, global transfer protocols, powerful computing methods, big data, and the immortal digital traces of mundane activity – encourages an audacious confidence in the knowability of the world.
It is not the digital quality of activism that makes it knowable. Â It is the digital quality of activism that gives one the confidence to attempt to know.
Put this way, the question is not “could activism be a science”? The questions is,Â why is activism notÂ yetÂ a science, and how can we make it so?
image: Flickr/ Kaptain Kobold