Could Activism Be a Science?

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 the form of testable explanations and (later) predictions.  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.  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.   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, why is activism not yet a science, and how can we make it so?

image: Flickr/ Kaptain Kobold



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