Philosophy & Public Space


Philosophy & Public Space

PPS Research Group

Reference: RG-502-2086 - Philosophy and Public Space 

Principal Investigator: Paula Cristina Pereira


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

Choosing public space as the nuclear theme of our research group is the result 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" (2012, Pereira, Paula Cristina).

RG PPS 2007-2012

RG PPS 2013-2017:

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 (Pereira) through the development of science, technique and technology (Heidegger, Hottois, Ellul, Habermas, Apel), 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 (Escola).

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 (Bastos) 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 (Jares, Mayor Zaragoza, Candeias) and an active and responsible citizenship - a democratic, social, intercultural, environmental and corporate citizenship (Cortina, Bartolomé, Peres). The political, social, cultural, ethical and educational (de)territorializations must be addressed, from an intercultural philosophical perspective, given the complexity generated by globalization.

To dwell in a global world, teachers and social professionals require a new training, in order to develop meaningful educational apprenticeships, identifying, in all educational, formal and informal situations (Agúado, Zeichner), the factors of cohesion and inclusion, and answering the contemporary demands for acknowledgment( Honneth) and emancipation (Rancière).


This organization – the tripartite structure – builds on the extant research and scientific production of the RG members. It is supervised by its Principal Investigator, privileging, however (as it always does), the exchange and sharing of interests and research, since the sets of problems of all three projects are closely interconnected, considering they all aim at clarifying and furthering the main purpose.

The methods employed consist in qualitative and reflexive approaches, including the contact and field work with schools, communities of knowledge and other institutions and entities. PhD students will actively participate in the organization of thematic discussion groups and contribute to publications, in articulation with their ongoing work, thus ensuring, through research diversity, the diversity of critical approaches as well as bringing the literature up to date.

Having integrated researchers and PhD students from different education institutions, who work in different contexts, provides the RG with an enrichment of its perspectives, as well a broader, international, sharing experience in research.


Actions achieving our goals:

1. Individual and Collective Books and/or conference proceedings;

2. Publications in peer-review national and international journals; 

3. National and international chapters in books, including contributions to conference proceedings, essays in collections;

4. Research resources (library, equipment, translations, services acquisition, digital materials, translations);

5. Organization of Scientific Meetings (national and international talks, seminars and conferences);

6. Organization of regular seminars with portuguese and foreign researchers;

7. Training PhD and Master's students;

8. Networking with other scientific communities and with similar projects, nationally and internationally;

9. Training Actions - service to the community through OFFil, including training sessions directed at philosophy teachers;

10. National and international missions of researchers from RG (research or meetings), including consultants visits.

We believe that the diffusion of the RG's outcomes might, beyond widening the international experience, capture the attention of broader audiences and also democratically promote the renewal of philosophic reflection and significant educational situations, in formal and informal contexts.