by Sarah Schönbauer & Sven Bergmann
Although there is more and more data about plastic particles in the environment, the impact of microplastic particles on the ecosystem, wildlife and the human body is still unexplored. However, the potential effect of such particles has become a core concern in our contemporary societies, tangible in the far-reaching media coverage or in scientific conferences specifically devoted to engage with microplastics.
In one of such conferences, the Micro2018 in Lanzarote (1) Richard Thompson, professor of biological and marine sciences at the University of Plymouth and the eponym of the term microplastics, gave a keynote. He claimed that besides the unquestionably important role of the natural sciences, the social sciences too should play an important role in future research on plastic particles in the environment. He encouraged social scientists to take part in conferences such as the Micro2018, and stated that this involvement would be beneficial for the overall engagement with microplastics. While we, two scholars in the social and cultural sciences, specifically in the field of cultural anthropology and Science and Technology Studies (STS), think that this is an important claim indeed, we also think that a closer involvement needs to be specified.
Microplastics from Lanzarote © Sarah Schönbauer