Citizen Sensing, Air Pollution and Fracking: From ‘Caring about Your Air’ to Speculative Practices of Evidencing Harm

Gabrys, Jennifer. 2017. Citizen Sensing, Air Pollution and Fracking: From ‘Caring about Your Air’ to Speculative Practices of Evidencing Harm. The Sociological Review, 65(2), pp. 172-192. ISSN 0038-0261 [Article]

[img] Text
Gabrys_Care_SocRvw2017.pdf - Accepted Version
Permissions: Administrator Access Only
Available under License Creative Commons Attribution Non-commercial No Derivatives.

Download (260kB)
0081176917710421.pdf - Published Version
Available under License Creative Commons Attribution.

Download (267kB) | Preview

Abstract or Description

Hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, is an emerging and growing industry that is having considerable effects on environments and health. Yet fracking often lacks environmental regulations that might be understood as governmental forms of care. In some locations in the US, citizens have taken up environmental monitoring as a way to address this perceived absence of care, and to evidence harm in order to argue for new infrastructures of care. This paper documents the practices of residents engaged in monitoring air pollution near fracking sites in the US, as well as the participatory and practice-based research undertaken by the Citizen Sense research project to develop monitoring kits for residents to use and test over a period of 7 months. Citizen sensing practices for monitoring air pollution can constitute ways of expressing care about environments, communities and individual and public health. Yet practices for documenting and evidencing harm through the ongoing collection of air pollution data are also speculative attempts to make relevant these unrecognised and overlooked considerations of the need for care. Working with the concept of speculation, this paper advances alternative notions of evidence, care and policy that attend to citizens’ experiences of living in the gas fields. How do citizen sensing practices work toward alternative ways of evidencing harm? In what ways does monitoring with environmental sensors facilitate this process? And what new speculative practices emerge to challenge the uses of environmental sensors, as well as to expand the types of data gathered, along with their political impact?

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’.

(c) 2017, The Author(s). This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License ( which permits any use, reproduction and distribution of the work without further permission provided the original work is attributed as specified on the SAGE and Open Access pages (


Citizen sensing, environmental monitoring, air pollution, fracking, speculation, evidence, care, harm

Related URLs:

Departments, Centres and Research Units:



7 April 2017Accepted
28 June 2017Published Online
1 July 2017Published

Item ID:


Date Deposited:

17 May 2017 15:11

Last Modified:

11 Jun 2021 08:03

Peer Reviewed:

Yes, this version has been peer-reviewed.


View statistics for this item...

Edit Record Edit Record (login required)