Philosophy & Public Space


Philosophy & Public Space

PPS Research Group

Philosophy and Public Space 

Reference: RG-502-400548

Principal Investigator: Paula Cristina Pereira


The RG Philosphy and Public Space was founded by Prof. Paula Pereira in 2007.

Public space as the nuclear theme of PPS research group results of general apprehensions raised by the spatial, social, political and anthropological changes occurred during the last few decades, with a notorious impact on peoples’ lives, on citizenship, and on modes of urban dwelling, an impact whose extent is yet to be fully assessed.

Its researchers seek to reflect on the transformations of the – and on the - contemporary public space, awakened by the progressive depoliticization of public life and the technological development, bearing in mind the increasingly complex relations between science, technology, politics and society. The research has been developed around the topic of contemporary dwelling, emerging among other themes and concepts: the anthropological dimension of space, technique, technology, technopolis, democracy, digitalism, the natural and the artificial, construction of subjectivity, the common good, communication, freedom, emancipation, power, utopia and politics.


RG PPS 2007-2012


2013-2017 Period:

Main goal: to spatially reposition Philosophy; identifying and critically examining: a) the problematic character of the relations between society, politics and technology; b) the complex reconfiguration of the common; c) the set of problems posed by the urban condition and plural societies. 


The problems faced by the Research group justify the tripartite structure:

1. Public Space, innovation and knowledge: with the reconfiguration of the notion of public space through the development of science, technique and technology (Heidegger, Hottois, Habermas), we witness the consolidation of the third industrial revolution, the information revolution, opening up post-industrial (Touraine) informational, society, of fluxes or in network (Castells), the Technopolis (Postman), the Telepolis (Echeverría) or risk society (Beck). The technological-political management of life articulates the science, knowledge and economy, typical of the capitalist model. The political philosophy and the philosophy of education find here new challenges in confrontation with techno-scientific progress (Hottois) which gives information and its circulation (Breton), new knowledge and free knowledge (Lafuente), the proper and essential conditions to the asserting of a society assumingly democratic and active, focusing on the economy of knowledge and on ethical issues, triggered by a technological civilization (Jonas, Lacroix), inviting us to find the most adequate route to a new sociability of the cyberspace, to social, educational and digital inclusion of all citizens.

2. Political space and the sense of the common: the concept of community returned to the heart of philosophic reflection during the 1980s (Alasdair MacIntyre, Charles Taylor), in particular as a reaction against certain forms of political liberalism (Rawls). To the extension of a cosmopolitan citizenship (Kant; Cortina) that, unadvised though it may be to neglect the context, in caring for it (Heidegger; Gilligan) a renewed connection is established between the individual and the common, the particular and the universal (Nagel), and that connection may contribute to new ways of experiencing power in democracy (Bobbio). To reflect, nowadays, on the common (Benkler, Lafuente) requires an understanding of the role of political philosophy of education, in light of a critical urbanity, aiming to assert a new intellectual majority that empowers people to create practices that do not yet exist (Rancière).

3. Global space and critical urbanity - cultures and identities: the openness to an increasingly global space, characterized by a predatory market economy that erodes the human by neglecting human rights (Jares, Caride), deepens the civilizational crisis, which is economic, political and cultural. The contemporary world highlights the intimate connection between the urban condition and plural societies, bringing to the fore new maps of interculturality (Abdallah-Pretceille, Canclini), which conceive of Human Rights as bridges to a new culture of peace and an active and responsible citizenship - a democratic, social, intercultural, environmental and corporate citizenship (Cortina, Bartolomé). The political, social, cultural, ethical and educational (de)territorializations must be addressed, from an intercultural philosophical perspective, given the complexity generated by globalization.

2018-2022 Period:

Thematic and philosophical profile of the research plan

The research proposed is intended to extend and deepen of the body of knowledge built in previous projects (2007-2012 / 2013-2017) on the city as a concept and the spatial repositioning of philosophy. The research will, thus, focus on the critical analysis of the founding concepts and arguments of the notion of public space within contemporary political and social representations and dynamics. The intention is to operate an effective exercise of epistemic intersection between emerging experience and knowledge as necessary and constituent elements of discourses and practices in this field of inquiry and intervention.

In the recognition that research on the notion of public space is required, and renewed by the force of contemporary social and political transformations and technological development, the aim is to analyse the limits and the critical potential of the public sphere, in order to understand the relations between contemporary discourses and practices and their influence on the construction of knowledge and the configuration of the various societal and identity processes. This necessarily requiring the contributions of different philosophical disciplines: Social and Political Philosophy, Philosophy of Technology, Ethics, and Philosophical Anthropology.

In this context, the need to intersect reflection and intervention in public life and the deconstruction of modern philosophical assumptions frames this project within a plural conception of Contemporary Philosophy, underlining the important role of philosophy in the construction of a democratic society, through the identification and analysis of the new figures of urbanity; going through the conceptual trajectory of the notion of public space in its correlation with the city – from the polis to the contemporary (global) version of the deterritorialisation of political processes – in order to explore the connection between a social reality marked by variability and the reconfiguration of public space.

Main goal:

The RG intends to consolidate and develop a body of knowledge on the notion of public space, within the framework of Social and Political Philosophy, by problematizing the limits and the critical potential of the public sphere, intersecting philosophical tradition and the critical analysis of the discourses and practices of the contemporary world.

Specific goals:

1) To critically configure the historical-philosophical heritage of the notions of the city in relation to the new figures of urbanity. To question the scope and limits of the political reality of the polis, the medieval lack of differentiation between the public and private categories, the normative rationality of the modern city, the link between the social and economic relationships of the industrial city and the new public space of the post- industrial society;

2) To consider the (re)construction of the common (space) beyond the public and the private (Hardt, Negri). The common as a political principle and a collaborative social process of production may entail overcoming the communitarian debate (MacIntyre, Taylor, Sandel, Kymlicka) and renewing reflection on the intersections between the notions of general interest and the common good with the different dynamics of power that shape public space;

3) To develop philosophical reflection on technical development and the meaning of technology and its social, political and economic effects on issues pertaining to a techno-scientific society (Heidegger, Jonas, Simondon, Winner);

4) Investigate the mode(s) in which the phenomena of mobility and urban resistance of our time – migrations, voluntary and forced displacements, social movements – (re)write political and social space and revive the problem of the right to city ​​(Lefevbre) when confronted with the violence of the dominant orders (Harvey);

5) Critically articulate the notion of public space with public policies and practices in which it is rooted – human rights and citizenship, technology and economics, training and education, art and communication – and which personalize the contemporary demands for recognition (Honneth, Fraser).



- Pereira, Paula Cristina, Cidade(s). Por uma antologia do bem viver, 2020;

- Jorge León & Julia Urabayen (Ed.) VIOLENCIA Y ESPACIO PÚBLICO, Editorial de la Universidad Pontificia Bolivariana de Medellín, 2020 (with the participation of the RG PPS researchers)

- Journal Special Issue: RECERCA. Revista de Pensament i Anàlisi
Temática: Filosofía de la ciudad, Publicación del número: Octubre 2020.
Editores: Paula Cristina Pereira (Universidade do Porto), José L. López-González (Universitat Jaume I), Domingo García-Marzá (Universitat Jaume I),

- 1st International Conference of Philosophy and Public Space International Network- PaPSIN , 2021;

- 2019-2020 INTERNATIONAL CYCLE OF LECTURES RIGHT TO THE CITY. Interdisciplinary Dialogues

Hosting and Integration of Refugees in Portugal  - José Luís Gonçalves (coordinator)
With the sponsorship of the Office of the Portuguese High Commissioner for Migration, in partnership with the Platform for Support to Refugees PAR), the Instituto Padre António Vieira (IPAV) and the Paula Frassinetti Higher School of Education, four training courses were held between 2015 and 2018 in the form of b-learning designed to train technicians and representatives of institutions that host and work with refugees on a daily basis. These four editions trained about 750 people nationwide on the theme of "Hosting and Integration of Refugees in Portugal". Under the coordination of José Luis Gonçalves (researcher at RGPS), the Paula Frassinetti Higher School of Education was the certifier entity of this training of 10 modules and was attended by specialists from 6 national universities and two Islamic entities. More information: