From Citizen Sensing to Collective Monitoring: Working through the Perceptive and Affective Problematics of Environmental Pollution

Pritchard, Helen and Gabrys, Jennifer. 2016. From Citizen Sensing to Collective Monitoring: Working through the Perceptive and Affective Problematics of Environmental Pollution. Geohumanities, 2(2), pp. 354-371. ISSN 2373-566X [Article]

[img] Text
PritchardGabrys_BorderTopologies_Final9August2016.docx - Accepted Version
Available under License Creative Commons Attribution Non-commercial.

Download (47kB)

Abstract or Description

Citizen sensing, or the practice of monitoring environments through low- cost and DIY digital technologies, is often structured as an individual pursuit. The very term “citizen” within citizen sensing suggests that the practice of sensing is the terrain of one political subject using a digital device to monitor her or his environment in order to take individual action. Yet in some circumstances, citizen sensing practices are reworking the sites and distributions of environmental monitoring toward other configurations that are more multiple and collective. What are the qualities and capacities of these collective modes of sensing, and how might they shift the assumed parameters—and effectiveness—of citizen sensing? We engage with Gilbert Simondon’s writing to consider how a “perceptive problematic” generates collectives for feeling and responding to events (or an “affective problematic”), here through the ongoing event of air pollution. Further drawing on writing from Isabelle Stengers, we discuss how the “work” of citizen sensing involves much more than developing new technologies, and instead points to the ways in which new practices, subjects, milieus, evidence and politics are worked through as perceptive and affective commitments to making sense of and addressing the problem of pollution.

Item Type:


Identification Number (DOI):

Additional Information:

The research leading to these results has received funding from the European Research Council under the European Union’s Seventh Framework Programme (FP/2007–2013)/ERC Grant Agreement No. 313347, “Citizen Sensing and Environmental Practice: Assessing Participatory Engagements with Environments through Sensor Technologies.”


air pollution, citizen sensing, collectives, perceptive and affective problematics

Related URLs:

Departments, Centres and Research Units:



8 August 2016Accepted
16 November 2016Published Online


Funding bodyFunder IDGrant Number
European Research CouncilUNSPECIFIED313347

Item ID:


Date Deposited:

07 Oct 2016 09:46

Last Modified:

29 Apr 2020 16:20

Peer Reviewed:

Yes, this version has been peer-reviewed.


View statistics for this item...

Edit Record Edit Record (login required)