Valuating Practices, Principles and Products in DIY Biology
The Case of Biological Ink and Vegan Cheese
In this article, we study do-it-yourself (DIY) biology, by looking in particular at the different forms of valuation within the DIY biology movement. Building upon recent work in economic sociology and the study of valuation, we take as case studies different projects developed by DIY biologists. Our approach is attentive to the moments when these projects are valued, i.e. during competitions, investment pitches, and crowdfunding campaigns. The projects analyzed involve both market valuations (with investments, products and potential markets) and non-market valuations (be they social, ethical or cultural). Our key argument is that value is produced through distributed and heterogeneous processes: products, practices, principles and places are valued at the same time. We show that there is not only a valuation of technical and production aspects (well highlighted in the key literature on valuation), but also a valuation of social links and of specific forms of organization. Both are inseparable - it is neither the object nor the context in themselves that are valued, but the “good-within-the-context-of-its-making”: the production of vegan cheese or biological ink and the places and communities of DIY biology or future markets are valued. The valuation practices we examine aim at producing an interest in a threefold sense: a general interest (a public good), an interest for the public (its curiosity), and a monetary interest (by making people financially participate).
Copyright (c) 2020 Morgan Meyer, Rebecca Wilbanks
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