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Technology in Society 25 (2003) 193–204

Research “in the wild” and the shaping of new

social identities
M. Callon ∗, V. Rabeharisoa
Ecole nationale superieure des mines de Paris, CSI, 60 Bd. Saint-Michel, 75272 Paris, cedex 06,


This article examines new forms of techno-science-society interactions, in which non-scien-

tists work with scientists to produce and disseminate knowledge. The term “research in the
wild” is coined to name a special version of this new phenomenon. The primary illustration
for this new form of research is connected with the Association Française contra les Myop-
athies (AFM), the history of which is particularly suitable for exploring certain mechanisms
at work in the co-production of scientific knowledge and social identities. The article first
compares laboratory research with research in the wild, emphasizing patient interest in main-
taining control over cooperation. It then notes the intimate interrelations between the construc-
tion of patient identities and the collective form of research in which they participate. Finally,
it examines the role of genetics, both as it is integrated into the construction of the collective,
and also into the production of mechanisms of exclusion—the reverse side of the constitution
of a collective identity.
 2003 Elsevier Science Ltd. All rights reserved.

1. Introduction

In recent history, science studies investigations into the production of knowledge

have focused on a number of noteworthy sites such as the laboratory, core issues
and their controversies, and the instrumentation and interpretation of experiments.
Even if tools have been designed to analyze relations between these sites and their
environment, such as the boundary objects [1] or networks of translation [2], we
cannot completely dismiss criticisms that such work is rather internal to science.

Corresponding author.
E-mail address: (M. Callon).

0160-791X/03/$ - see front matter  2003 Elsevier Science Ltd. All rights reserved.
194 M. Callon, V. Rabeharisoa / Technology in Society 25 (2003) 193–204

Questions concerning relations between scientists and non-scientists, experts and lay
people—especially in the production and dissemination of knowledge—have
received little attention from the empirical or theoretical viewpoints, at least until
quite recently.
Yet this has become a central subject outside the science and technology studies
community because of two major developments. The first concerns economic mar-
kets. Briefly, even if there are multiple markets and they are organized in different
ways, all now share a common feature: users or consumers who take an ever greater
role in defining demand, that is, in the conception of the products being offered to
them [3]. This movement is reflected primarily in the continual growth of the service
sector in overall economic activity [4]. The services sector now accounts for more
than 70% of all employment and a similar proportion of the GDP in all developed
countries. Using a distinction proposed by Hirschman, we could say that markets
function more and more according to the principle of “the voice” rather than that
of “the exit” [5].
This does not imply that all users participate equally. First, only some are engaged
or consulted. Second, because of technological lock-in and network externalities,
consumers today are often prisoners of choices made before them by other economic
agents [6]. Yet it is not wrong to say that consumers and their spokespersons are
more and more active in the process of product consumption and consequently more
and more present, even indirectly, in research and development activities. This co-
production so often described by economics and economic sociology implies, among
other things, that the consumer is considered to be a source of knowledge and ideas,
an expert in experiences. To make this cooperation and its implications intelligible,
new theories comparing the firm to a knowledge processor have been put forward.
These theories see consumers as actors in their own right in this collective process
of the production and circulation of knowledge [7].
The second development relates also to the ways in which political decisions are
made, particularly when concerned with questions involving the mobilization of
techno-science. Consultation, participation, and public debate are some of the key-
words enabling us roughly to describe this trend that has slowly been taking shape
over the past two decades [8]. This trend is now clearly visible even in countries
such as France where science and technology have always been considered non-
debatable subjects. In the procedures that are being explored, the idea is not just to
expand and enhance traditional mechanisms of representation and participation. As
stressed by Sheila Jasanoff, what is at play is not a logic of representation but one
of intervention, which enables groups simultaneously to discuss their identity and
their expectations and to feed the research process with their own experience [9].
Groups that are concerned by particular techno-scientific developments are offered
opportunities to express themselves and to progressively become stakeholders. The
now widely used term “co-production of science and society” conveniently captures
this phenomenon.
Thus, whether we consider the market or politics, the same question seems to be
raised: what are the forms, modalities, and consequences of engaging lay people—
whether they are concerned or not—in the process of knowledge production that is
M. Callon, V. Rabeharisoa / Technology in Society 25 (2003) 193–204 195

mobilized in the design of new economic goods or in the political decision-mak-

ing process.
Studies aimed at better understanding the mechanisms and reality of this co-pro-
duction are becoming available [10–13]. In this article, we hope to contribute to this
new field of inquiry. More precisely, our objective is to suggest that it might be
fruitful to consider concerned groups as (potentially) genuine researchers, capable
of working cooperatively with professional scientists. In so doing, they invent a new
form of research, which we propose to call research “in the wild.” We will outline
some of the main characteristics of this new form of investigation and stress its
contribution to the emergence of hybrid collectives, mixing humans and non-humans.

2. The French Muscular Dystrophy Association as a partner organization

The illustrations to be used in this article are drawn from a study on the Associ-
ation Française contre les Myopathies (AFM) or French association of muscular
dystrophy (MD) patients [14]. To show the originality and interest of this organiza-
tion for our purpose, we need first to say a few words about the different types of
patient organizations.
In our work, we have found that one of the main issues for patient organizations
rests with the nature of their relations with specialists, be they medical professionals
or scientific researchers. Different organizations have found a variety of answers to
this issue, which we have termed “auxiliary organizations,” “opponent organiza-
tions,” and “partner organizations”[15,16].
Auxiliary organizations base their action on the recognition of a difference
between expert know-how and lay experience. Some encourage cooperation between
professionals and patients, the latter becoming auxiliaries of the medico-social milieu
as they take care of technical interventions defined by the experts (injections, physio-
therapy, dialysis, etc.). They also provide moral and social support. Others, more
suspicious of the medical world, try to acquire expertise comparable to that of
specialists in their disease. In both cases, although with different strategies, they
participate in the recognition and maintenance of this divide [17].
In the case of opponent organizations, patients reject any defining of their state
by the scientific and medical community. From their point of view, their very identity
as patients is at stake. One of the most extensively studied examples is the case of
deaf people who refuse to use cochlear implants. They value their identity and reject
a technology that would deny it [18].
The third type of organization, the partner organization, tries to establish parity
between specialists and patients. This type of association helps to highlight the subtle
links of cooperation between patients and specialists on the one hand, and mech-
anisms that construct social identities on the other.
AFM provides a clear example of what we call a partner organization. Established
in the late 1950s, it brings together people with muscular dystrophy and their families
[19]. There are numerous forms of this disease, but the common denominator is the
fact that in all cases the neuromuscular transmission between peripheral nerve and
196 M. Callon, V. Rabeharisoa / Technology in Society 25 (2003) 193–204

muscle is affected. Some forms are extremely serious and can be fatal, others less
so because they affect non-vital muscles. Some affect adults, others children. Some
are found in women and others exclusively in men. Finally, while some are monogen-
etic others are plurigenetic. This diversity provides abundant material for particularly
interesting comparative analyses.
The AFM is an especially interesting case because when it was founded the medi-
cal and scientific world showed no interest whatsoever in this disease. Moreover,
the most serious cases were seen as defects that the families tried to hide. Thus from
the beginning the AFM decided to pursue two courses of action: one oriented toward
the development of research, the other toward daily support for patients and better
social integration.
The AFM and its history are therefore particularly suitable for exploring certain
mechanisms at work in this co-production of scientific knowledge and social ident-
ities. We will begin by comparing laboratory research and research in the wild,
emphasizing patient capacity to maintain control over this cooperation. Then we
delve into the entangled constructions of patient identities and the collective research
in which they participate. Finally, we consider the role of genes as they are integrated
into the construction of the collective, but also in the production of mechanisms of
exclusion, which is the reverse side of the constitution of this collective.

3. A new form of collaborative research: researcher in the wild

When considering the nature of the relations between professional scientists and
lay people, two pitfalls must be avoided. The first would be simply to postulate the
ignorance of lay people—ignorance that can be overcome only through education
or popularization. By contrast, the second pitfall would be to affirm the superiority
of lay expertise in the name of its greater realism. On the one hand, it is claimed
that objective and universal scientific knowledge is necessarily produced in labora-
tories within the community of specialists; on the other, it is asserted that truth and
effectiveness are local and contextual. As Harry Collins put it in a recent review, it
is a mistake to jump from a critique of Western science to arguing for the abolition
of the notion of expertise [20]. We would add that it is also a mistake to deny the
existence of lay knowledge.
The AFM experience takes us even further in the adoption of a symmetrical point
of view. It shows, first, that these types of knowledge are not contradictory but
complementary, for “when science is applied without taking local knowledge into
account, it is often the poorer for it,” and vice versa [20, p. 290]. We can therefore
talk of mutual enrichment, but obviously not of competition or substitution. Second,
it demonstrates that these two forms of knowledge are not intrinsically different. It
would, for example, be wrong to say that the former are explicit and codified while
the latter are tacit, or that the former are formalized while the latter are informal.
Everything depends on the equipment used on both sides and, more broadly, the
conditions in which the expertise is produced. This explains why some collaborative
research is possible.
M. Callon, V. Rabeharisoa / Technology in Society 25 (2003) 193–204 197

The AFM case enables us to be more specific on this point. Throughout its history,
patients and their spokespersons have imagined and stubbornly developed what could
be called “research in the wild,” while continuing to strongly support laboratory
research. Neither of these is more important than the other; for the patients, both
research in the wild and laboratory research are necessary and complementary.
Because their diseases are “orphans,” patients have from the outset had to deal
with being abandoned by the medical and scientific profession. Consequently the
AFM promoted a series of actions to gather information on the diseases, that is, to
undertake what could rightly be called a primitive accumulation of knowledge. In this
perspective, one of the most original contributions of the AFM is the mobilization of
proto-instruments by patients and their families who put themselves in a position
to create formal, transportable, cumulative, and debatable knowledge. These proto-
instruments include cameras, camcorders for taking films and photos, accounts writ-
ten by patients or their parents in the form of books for the general public, requested
testimonies, spontaneous letters, and lectures given by patients or their relatives. All
these widely and easily available proto-instruments are means for formalizing and
publicizing knowledge, which was formerly confined to the intimacy of private life.
Photos are an effective tool for producing knowledge on the intermediate form of
spinal muscular atrophy (SMA) in children. Defined in a residual way as being
neither fatal in the short term nor non-progressive in the long term, its degree of
gravity can be qualified only by comparison, with each parent trying to situate his
or her child’s development in relation to that of other children suffering from the
same disease. Photos play a special role in this comparative evaluation because they
act as tools for visualization, which make it possible to compare children’s abilities
to act. The patients and their parents are never without their photo albums, which
they exchange and comment on at every opportunity, often trying to interpret the
other parents’ (sometimes) silent reactions. These discussions and evaluations are
comparable to those of researchers around the inscriptions produced by their labora-
tory instruments [21]. What is important is the qualification of the child’s state and
his or her trajectory.
Apart from films, photo albums, and accounts, patients also use more classical
methods such as surveys. These consist of long questionnaires (generally about ten
pages with over 50 highly detailed items) that are sent out regularly. Their formu-
lation and the processing of the answers serve to review the disease, including its
development, symptoms, treatment, and the effects of treatment. They play an
important part in building up and sharing patient knowledge and know-how. Drafting
these questionnaires involves discussions on information to be gathered and the way
it will be used and possibly transmitted to specialists in the form of syntheses or
questions. Reviews comparable to manuals are written, sometimes including data
from established laboratories. This research in the wild is an organized, instrumen-
talized, and reflexive research.
Much more could be said, but these comments are sufficient to show that, at least
in this case, there is no fundamental difference of status between knowledge pro-
duced by patients and that produced by researchers or clinicians. On both sides we
198 M. Callon, V. Rabeharisoa / Technology in Society 25 (2003) 193–204

find experiments, instruments, and procedures of visualization, formalization, evalu-

ation, accumulation, and writing.
But researchers in the wild go further. They do not want to remain isolated. They
launch funding programs aimed at developing laboratory research. They fight to
establish structures for exchange between researchers, clinicians, and patients. For
example, patients suffering from MD are not merely content to produce useful and
original knowledge of their own disease. From the start they have tried to establish
contacts with specialists in order to work with them on an equal footing. The sym-
metry and complementarity between research in the wild and laboratory research is
promoted and maintained. The resulting cooperation, while not free of conflict, has
taken diverse forms: organization of sampling in close collaboration with clinicians
and biologists; constitution of cell and DNA banks; creation of the Généthon (which
is controlled by the AFM), a very innovative technical platform primarily responsible
for drawing up relevant maps of the human genome. (On the role and importance
of technical platforms in biomedicine, see Keating and Cambrosio [22,23].) Apart
from this research infrastructure managed jointly by the association and the scientists
concerned, the AFM funds numerous research teams. All of these represent opport-
unities for those running the organization to monitor the evolution of laboratory
research and to promote certain research topics rather than others. The number of
mixed working groups that take stock of particular diseases, raises questions, and
exchange expertise gives a fair idea of the importance and complexity of the system
that has progressively been established.
The system has undoubtedly enhanced interaction between research in the wild and
laboratory research. Specialists and patients meet not only for pleasant discussions or
mere information sessions, they also engage in new forms of collaborative research.
Translations and cross-fertilization between the different forms of knowledge take
place. It is their content and implications that we turn to now.

4. From collaborative research to new collective identities

It is not enough to talk of the hybridization of knowledge or information exchange.

Collaboration between patients, clinicians, and researchers—between specialists in
the field and laboratory specialists—is organized around three issues: (a) constructing
the identity of the actors involved; (b) setting up strategic space; and (c) developing
new hybrid collectives [24].
The first component is that of identity. Expertise in the wild and laboratory expert-
ise are constantly shifting. Through collaboration and exchanges arranged by organi-
zations such as the AFM, the aim is to improve knowledge of the disease and its
different forms. But the picture is becoming increasingly complex, because as the
description of originating or genetic mechanisms becomes more precise, so do the
symptoms and clinical diagnoses. Patients enhance and clarify the characterization
of their disease. They know more about its possible evolution and learn to link
individual behavior or social relations to biological data in a constantly revisable
way. This discourse combines the biological and the social to produce what Paul
M. Callon, V. Rabeharisoa / Technology in Society 25 (2003) 193–204 199

Rabinow has suggested calling “bio-sociality” [25]. The patient’s identity and that
of the group of patients, of which he or she becomes a member, are simultaneously
shaped. Symmetrically, specialists who engage in this collaboration are forced to
consider the disease “from the bench to the patient’s bed,” to borrow a phrase from
[26]. This manifests itself in new professional identities and careers: some specialists
circulate back and forth between clinics and laboratories, or between previously sep-
arate fields such as genetics and psychiatry.
The second component is a strategic one. The more knowledge about the originat-
ing or genetic mechanisms of the disease advances, the more complex the picture
becomes. The number of actants involved (all kinds of proteins, antibodies, enzymes,
etc.) multiplies and causal links proliferate. As a result, differences between individ-
ual patients intensify, and the number of specialists that can be mobilized increases.
This opens the way for strategic options. One researcher will accompany the dis-
covery of a gene by creating an animal model and then testing gene therapy; a second
will continue the gene hunt by studying other diseases; a third will concentrate on
proteins and their functions; and so on. Each choice can be part of a different set
of alliances. For example, a clinician, on behalf of the immediate interests of a
specific patient, might refuse to launch a costly project to study the function of a
protein, arguing that the patient should not have to wait for treatment until it is
discovered what molecules trigger the production of certain proteins. By contrast, a
biologist, also on behalf of the long-term interests of MD patients in general, might
take the opposite stance. Conversely, given the uninterrupted development of
research investigations, the disease constantly shifts between different medical reper-
toires. As a consequence, for each patient the range of possible therapeutic options
become broader and more diversified. Genetics simplifies nothing; it carries with it
more and more complexity, more and different alliances and trajectories.
Reductionism is the infantile disorder of genetics. (Feminists have coined the term
“strategic essentialism” to designate this new form of identity struggle.)
The third component is investigation. When clinicians or researchers engage in
conversation and interaction with patients, they have to be extremely careful. They
must recognize the diversity of situations, the complexity of possible causal links.
They must be aware of the importance of what they call the social context. They
must perceive the professional repercussions of the disease and must realize that
patients living with many prostheses depend heavily on those around them and on
the way they are cared for [27]. Thus, in the researchers’ or clinicians’ eyes, patients
become personalized while gaining depth and complexity. They are constituted as
individuals caught up in a peculiar network of social relations.
Patients, in turn, witness the appearance and proliferation of more and more non-
human entities that they learn to think of as being part of themselves. They see the
creation of links between themselves and, for example, an obscure worm whose
genome serves as a model and about which they regularly ask the researcher for
news. They see a host of specialists come to study their disease—specialists in popu-
lation genetics, genetic counseling, heart diseases, and so on. Their own understand-
ing of the disease is thus enriched with an array of new human and non-human
200 M. Callon, V. Rabeharisoa / Technology in Society 25 (2003) 193–204

entities that they learn to describe and with which they become accustomed to sharing
their existence.
The collaboration that builds up between researchers in the wild and laboratory
specialists allows this exploration and joint construction of the hybrid collective. As
Rabinow puts it, one could say that these constantly reconfigured collectives share
genes and proteins. They also have “medical specialists, laboratories, narratives, tra-
ditions, and a heavy panoply of pastoral keepers to help them experience, share,
intervene and understand their fate” [25].

5. An outcome: genes as operators of entanglement and exclusion

What has been said so far demonstrates the centrality of genetics and genes, now
the pivotal aspect of MD research. It is the gene that today makes possible this
configuration in which laboratory expertise and expertise in the wild enrich and
fertilize one another. It is also the gene that allows the construction of discourse,
which simultaneously controls identities, strategic alliances, and exploration of the
collective. It is therefore the gene that, in its own way, produces interdependency,
which weaves the social link. Two examples illustrate this point.
In the first, the AFM was confronted early on with a problem of legitimacy and
equity. The funds that enabled it to finance research and support patients were almost
entirely derived from the Téléthon, an extremely successful TV fundraising activity.
In France this program (considerably different from its American counterpart) has
become a huge, popular, festive event, a manifestation of national solidarity.
With this success, the risk is that the AFM could be accused of collecting substan-
tial amounts of money (in 2000 it raised approximately 500 million francs) for a
small group of patients who, although severely ill, are a tiny minority. The AFM
anticipated such criticism, however, by launching a mapping program that was not
exclusively focused on muscular dystrophy and made certain equipment available to
teams working on other diseases. The AFM thus carried out what Boltanski and
Thevenot have called a montée en généralité linking specific concerns and positions
to collective issues [28]. By financing the AFM, French television viewers thus sup-
port work that benefits not only MD but also other more common diseases that
affect or could affect large numbers of people. This impressive translation between
individual and general interests is made possible by the genes themselves, which
constitute a powerful operator of translation [29]. Everything that advances the
identification of genes and the analysis of their functioning is profitable for all the
potential patients that we are (on the subject of biomedicine as a new disciplinary
arrangement that dismisses the traditional opposition between normality and pathol-
ogy, see Keating and Cambrosio [23].)
But the action of the gene goes further than this. By showing that a defect is in
fact a small genetic accident, the AFM demonstrates that we are all just one or two
genes away from being MD patients. Genes are not content just to make particular
and general interests compatible; they also produce solidarity and compassion. When
circulating through various spheres (scientific, political, medical, and economic), they
M. Callon, V. Rabeharisoa / Technology in Society 25 (2003) 193–204 201

no longer divide; they connect, create interdependency, and produce a common

humanity that includes those who tended to be excluded.
In a second example, the work of collective integration is also performed by the
gene on a smaller scale. Cooperation between research in the wild and laboratory
research creates a sort of “trading zone” [30], an area for the circulation of genes
which, in different forms, go from the patient to the cell bank and from there to the
laboratory where they are analyzed. This circulating gene entangles patients and
researchers as it goes along. As a young girl with spinal muscular atrophy said to
a biologist who, after having helped to identify the gene of the disease, was working
on the protein: “I’m with you in your laboratory since you’re working on my genes.”
Or, as another researcher admitted: “I’ve always got a sample file open, and I know
I can go back to the patient whenever I want to.” If we add the pedigrees that, on
the space of a sheet of paper, conflate different times and places, draw links, visualize
gene trajectories, and perform families, we get a rich web of entanglement.
In both cases we see that the gene is domesticated, tamed, and integrated into a
collective that holds it and is held by it. It is a civilized and civilizing gene, per-
forming the collective and performed by it. And this integration into the society of the
gene, or insertion into the genetics of society, would have been impossible without a
starting point: the parity, the symmetry, between the complementary forms of knowl-
edge that constitutes the foundations of this collective.
The creation of this collective, which is a perfect illustration of the biosociality
described by Rabinow, is not free of exclusion, a point that must also be recognized.
Genes, as presented by the AFM, are operators of entanglement and hence of soli-
darity. To understand the moral and political consequences of this action of genes,
François Jullien’s work offers a unique source of inspiration [31]. He compares the
ways in which moral behaviors are accounted for in Western and Chinese philosophy
and shows how Mencius’ work offers an interesting alternative to the multiple sol-
utions conceived of in the West. Being human, says Mencius, means being
entangled—if I can be affected and moved by other beings it is because I am
entangled, involved with them. The modalities of this entanglement are multiple.
The importance of Merleau-Ponty’s last writings [32] likewise lies precisely in his
analysis of the body not as a being in the world (he highlights the limits of this
classic phenomenological position), but as articulation, entanglement—if I am moved
it is because I am caught in a web of links of which my body is one of the most
powerful operators. We can see the importance of the circulating gene and its vis-
ualization. Genes (and we are not talking about those of eugenicists but the civilizing
genes of the AFM) produce these entanglements and make them visible. They create
links and are therefore a source of moral questioning.
Once the gene has been received in the collective, a whole series of actions and
behaviors become inevitable for whoever does not want to be excluded from it. One
example would be making a diagnosis. Another is entering into the public space of
disease, into the collective described by Rabinow, which, apart from genes, includes
medical specialists, the family, laboratories, narratives. One must also decide whether
or not to follow the treatment recommended by the patient organization and special-
ists, and whether or not to adopt the available prostheses.
202 M. Callon, V. Rabeharisoa / Technology in Society 25 (2003) 193–204

As we have shown elsewhere, this collective imposes certain forms of agency. In

general an individual who takes care of him or herself struggles against the disease
and agrees to enter into this unusual collective [27]. We have begun to identify and
study all those who refuse to be included in the collective. Clearly, they are not just
fighting against genetic reductionism or a form of medicalization that they consider
excessive. Here again Mencius is highly valuable. These recalcitrant patients opt
for other collectives where genes are absent, but which leave open other forms of
entanglement and humanity, other agencies. This refusal is reflected in the rejection
of knowledge produced by collaborative research. Basically, these outsiders do not
want to hear what other patients or specialists are saying to them. They do everything
they can not to understand genetics and the strange solidarity it suggests. This does
not mean they are mentally retarded or amoral. They are simply opting for another
kind of humanity, other forms of knowledge, solidarity, and morality [33].

6. Concluding remarks

Laboratory knowledge cannot absorb all the complexities of the world. This point
has often been made [34]. Consequently, given the framing required by the labora-
tory, some externalities will always exist, a point Callon [35] made previously with
regard to economic calculations but which applies equally to science. For example,
as we argue here, professional scientists do not on their own readily take into account
demands and problems raised by orphan groups, in this case patients suffering
from MD.
Faced with this failure of laboratory research, two strategies are open to patients.
Either they endorse exclusion and turn it back against a science considered to be
distant, normalizing, and reductive, or they decide to develop their own capacities
and to set up collaborative research with scientists and clinicians. Reasons for choos-
ing one option over the other are contingent. In the case of sickle cell anemia suffered
by African-Americans, for example, Fullwiley [36] has shown that in order to avoid
increases in stigmatization, they choose to exclude themselves and not to collaborate
with research. In the case of muscular dystrophy, however, this risk of stigmatization
did not exist. Patients simply wanted to move out of the shadows. They did so by
actively participating in establishing collectives that include genes but also a whole
series of prosthesis. Yet this political choice, based on a certain organization in the
production of knowledge has, in turn, produced its own exclusion. To understand
this never-ending movement in the reconfiguration of identities, inclusion and
exclusion, we have to accept the symmetry between expertise in the wild and labora-
tory expertise.
One final point: beyond the similarities between research in the wild and confined
research delegated to professionals (both cases involve genuine research), some dif-
ferences remain. Research in the wild has several remarkable properties:

1. Researchers in the wild are directly concerned with the knowledge they produce
because they are both the objects and the subjects of their research.
M. Callon, V. Rabeharisoa / Technology in Society 25 (2003) 193–204 203

2. Production and appropriation overlap to a large extent, since it is one group that
in the same movement elaborates and uses the knowledge.
3. Incentives are of a different nature, for what is at issue in the case of research
in the wild is fate and the survival of the group whose members wish to save
their lives.
4. Largely as a consequence of the preceding points, we cannot separate the elabor-
ation of knowledge from the construction of an identity because this identity is
also common and shared before being individual.
5. Research in the wild makes a strong contribution to the formulation of problems
and questions that become intelligible for confined researchers, some of whom
have participated in their elaboration. The concerned groups, owing to their invest-
ment in research, are no longer the only ones concerned.

By contributing to a better understanding of these new and complicated collective

dynamics, science studies will enrich debate on, and the performance of, these collec-


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Michel Callon was educated as an engineer and sociologist, and is now a professor of sociology at the Ecole
des Mines, Paris. He also served as director of the Centre de Sociologie de l’Innovation from 1982 to 1994.
He was president of the Society for the Social Studies of Science from 1998–1999. His books in English
include Mapping the Dynamics of Science and Technology: Sociology of Science in the Real World (1986),
edited with John Law and Arie Rip, and The Laws of Markets (1998).

Vololona Rabeharisoa, a colleague also at the Ecole des Mines, has collaborated with Callon on a number
of research projects, especially in the fields of medical science and technology.