The frontiers of participatory public engagement

Mahony, N. and Stephansen, H. 2016. The frontiers of participatory public engagement. European Journal of Cultural Studies. 19 (6), pp. 583-597. doi:10.1177/1367549416632007

TitleThe frontiers of participatory public engagement
AuthorsMahony, N. and Stephansen, H.
Abstract

Currently missing from critical literature on public engagement with academic research is a public-centric analysis of the wider contemporary context of developments in the field of public engagement and participation. Drawing on three differently useful strands of the existing theoretical literature on the public, this article compares a diverse sample of 100 participatory public engagement initiatives in order to first, analyse a selection of the myriad ways that the public is being constituted and supported across this contemporary field and second, identify what socio-cultural researchers might learn from these developments. Emerging from this research is a preliminary map of the field of public engagement and participation. This map highlights relationships and divergences that exist among diverse forms of practice and brings into clearer view a set of tensions between different contemporary approaches to public engagement and participation. Two ‘frontiers’ of participatory public engagement that socio-cultural researchers should attend are also identified. At the first, scholars need to be critical regarding the particular versions of the public that their preferred approach to engagement and participation supports and concerning how their specific identifications with the public relate to those being addressed across the wider field. At the second frontier, researchers need to consider the possibilities for political intervention that public engagement and participation practice could open out, both in the settings they are already working and also in the much broader, rapidly developing and increasingly complicated contemporary field of public engagement and participation that this article explores.

KeywordsCultural studies, engaged research, participation, participatory research, politics, public engagement, public participation, public scholarship, public sphere, the public
JournalEuropean Journal of Cultural Studies
Journal citation19 (6), pp. 583-597
ISSN1460-3551
1367-5494
Year2016
PublisherSage
Accepted author manuscriptFrontiers of participatory public engagement_Authors Accepted Manuscripts.pdf
Digital Object Identifier (DOI)doi:10.1177/1367549416632007
Publication dates
Published07 Mar 2016

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