Locating the public in research and practice

Lynn A. Staeheli, Don Mitchell

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

82 Scopus citations


Discussions of public space and the public have become complicated in recent years. This article seeks to bring some clarity to these discussions by examining where participants in public space debates 'locate' the public - those spheres or realms where participants believe a public is constituted and where public interest is found. To identify the ways in which public space is conceptualized and located, we analyze the literature on public space, interviews with scholars actively involved in public space research, and interviews with participants in a series of public space controversies in the USA. We find that differing definitions of 'the public' that underlie these conceptualizations are rooted in strongly held political orientations and normative visions of democracy. But we also find that there is considerable overlap in how participants frame their understandings of publicity, and thus there is a basis for more thorough debate and even transformation of policy and practice.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)792-811
Number of pages20
JournalProgress in Human Geography
Issue number6
StatePublished - Dec 2007


  • Community
  • Democracy
  • Public
  • Public space
  • Publicity

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geography, Planning and Development


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