Part of a (2013 no. 3) special issue devoted to the theme of ‘Academia’s values of critique and social relevance’ edited by Maria Francesca Murra and Nico Carpentier and featuring contributions by Peter Lunt, Peter Dalhgren and others.
The work of public engagement (copy can be accessed here) explores ‘the public’ in public engagement as a site of negotiation, production and possibility. It introduces a new conceptual framework, which draws on a set of distinctive disciplinary traditions of scholarship, to identify and bring together normative, calculative and emergence-oriented perspectives on the topic of the ‘public’. In contexts where ‘the public’ is increasingly opaque or in flux, this framework has been designed to provide a theoretical compass that enables emergent configurations of the public to be investigated in a pragmatic way. The article reflects on how this framework was used as part of the process of setting up a new participatory public engagement initiative called Participation Now, at The Open University (UK). The article also begins to illuminate how this process led to a particular set of ways of thinking about the social relevance and the responsibilities of contemporary research.