The Promissory Visions of DIYbio: Reimaging Science from the Fringe

Sonja Erikainen*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Recent years have seen a proliferation of do-it-yourself biology (DIYbio) initiatives, consisting of people undertaking a range of bioscience activities outside traditional research environments. DIYbio initiatives, while diverse, exist at the fringes of institutionalised science, which enables them to advance different promissory visions about what science, especially bioscience, could or should become in the future, including how it should be governed. These visions reconfigure conventional delineations of science in politically and normatively loaded ways that can simultaneously reaffirm, contest, and shift the traditional epistemic foundations of science. They put forth alternative science futures in ways that highlight the performative force of promissory visions in shaping not only mainstream but also fringe science activity. DIYbio offers a fruitful lens for understanding how science is currently being reconfigured by unconventional actors to encompass new meanings and domains. It offers a different angle on the wider sociology of expectations engagement with the future as an analytical object, by showing how the future of science is constructed and managed from the fringe. Yet, DIYbio initiatives' promissory visions are also embedded within neoliberal ideals of productive and entrepreneurial citizens, highlighting how the wider socio-economic context constrains the alternative futures manufactured by these initiatives.

Original languageEnglish
JournalScience as Culture
Early online date17 Jan 2022
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 17 Jan 2022


  • DIYbio
  • fringe science
  • promissory visions
  • sociology of expectations


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