Making knowledge from below

Senna Middelveld*, Harro Maat*, Phil Macnaghten*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterAcademicpeer-review


This chapter engages with local, plural, and deliberative forms of knowledge and its potential for social innovation. Based on the premise that knowledge is co-produced with particular social orderings, knowledges that come ‘from below’ represent alternatives to and resistance against institutionally embedded knowledge ‘from above.’ We illustrate this with three cases. The first case offers a historical perspective by reassessing the knowledge and agricultural practices underlying resistance against Caribbean slave-based plantation economies. In the second case we present sheep farmers and veterinarians in Scotland who resisted a diagnostic information system for scabies imposed by the government. Farmers and veterinarians continued their effective local understanding and treatment practices of sheep scab. The third case introduces deliberations about future perspectives on social change that are implied in the introduction of genetically modified foods. The public engagement sessions revealed a variety of possible futures, contesting the narrow and negatively framed public attitude by mainstream science policy. We conclude by highlighting methodological implications of the cases, each showing particular epistemic and social connections as well as different forms of legitimation.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationThe Politics of Knowledge in Inclusive Development and Innovation
EditorsD. Ludwig, B. Boogaard, P. Macnaghten, C. Leeuwis
Place of PublicationLondon
ISBN (Electronic)9781003112525
Publication statusPublished - 8 Oct 2021


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