Do-it-yourself biology: Action research within the life sciences?

Stefano Golinelli*, Guido Ruivenkamp

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

7 Citations (Scopus)


Do-it-yourself biology, or garage biology, is a set of practices through which lay people can practice biotechnology and thus also challenge the exclusive control exercised on biotech R&D by Big Bio. This article describes how garage biologists aim to radically transform biotechnological socio-material products and indicate a way of engaging with science and technology that is praxis oriented and builds on sharing, participation, and creativity. We argue that these do-it-yourself biology practices contain significant epistemological similarities with the well-established tradition of action research and indicate that both practices share the political objective to empower individuals to actively build their own future but that they prioritize different strategies. Action research investigates opportunities for empowerment in typical social domains while do-it-yourself biology focuses on the material dimension of socio-technical realities. By reviewing some do-it-yourself biology practices from the core basic principles of action research, the article aims to develop insight whether and in which forms a connectivity can be realized between these different practices leading to future collective actions among these practices.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)151-167
JournalAction Research
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2016


  • action research
  • do-it-yourself biology
  • Life sciences
  • open innovation


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