Public Culture in Theory and Practice
A public is a distinct social entity, which can be studied comparatively. On the one hand a public comprises mediated relationships between persons, but on the other hand face-to-face interactions are also necessarily part of a public. Both governmental and non-governmental institutions are closely related to political publics and the publics created in civil society by special interest groups.
The Public Culture Group is dedicated to the study of publics and public institutions, their forms, their cultures and their influence on our history and our future. It is our view that advances in the theoretical understanding of publics must arise in fine grained ethnographic study of particular publics in a comparative perspective. The study of publics may include the exploration of multi-locale fieldwork, where locale can be taken to mean virtual space (e.g. a web-site) as much as a specific bounded territory/place. We also believe that ethnographic study from this point of view can produce rich results for practical application in the social world.
Since the 18th century the growth and expansion of forms of publics has increasingly marked our modern world. Some publics, such as the political public associated with a modern European state, are large and extremely complex; while others, such as the diffuse public of a special interest group, may be small and relatively simple.
(Photo taken by Dr Iain Edgar in Peshawar, Pakistan in 2005. All rights reserved.)