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In
public relations Public relations (PR) is the practice of deliberately managing the release and spread of information between an individual or an organization (such as a business, government agency, or a nonprofit organization) and the General public, public in ...
and
communication science Communication studies or communication science is an academic discipline An academic discipline or academic field is a subdivision of knowledge Knowledge is a familiarity, awareness, or understanding of someone or something, such as fac ...
, publics are groups of individual
people A people is any plurality of person A person (plural people or persons) is a being that has certain capacities or attributes such as reason, morality, consciousness or self-consciousness, and being a part of a culturally established form of ...

people
, and the public (a.k.a. the general public) is the totality of such groupings. This is a different concept to the
sociological Sociology is the study of society A society is a Social group, group of individuals involved in persistent Social relation, social interaction, or a large social group sharing the same spatial or social territory, typically subject to t ...
concept of the ''Öffentlichkeit'' or
public sphere The public sphere (German ) is an area in social life where individuals can come together to freely discuss and identify societal problems, and through that discussion influence political action. Such a discussion is called public debate and is de ...
. The concept of a public has also been defined in
political science Political science is the scientific study of politics Politics (from , ) is the set of activities that are associated with making decisions in groups, or other forms of power relations between individuals, such as the distribution of ...
,
psychology Psychology is the science of mind and behavior. Psychology includes the study of consciousness, conscious and Unconscious mind, unconscious phenomena, as well as feeling and thought. It is an academic discipline of immense scope. Psychologis ...

psychology
,
marketing Marketing is the process of intentionally stimulating demand for and purchases of goods and services; potentially including selection of a target audience; selection of certain attributes or themes to emphasize in advertising; operation of adve ...

marketing
, and advertising. In public relations and communication science, it is one of the more ambiguous concepts in the field. Although it has definitions in the theory of the field that have been formulated from the early 20th century onwards, and suffered more recent years from being blurred, as a result of conflation of the idea of a public with the notions of audience, market segment, community, constituency, and stakeholder.


Etymology and definitions

The name "public" originates with the
Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic languages, Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. Latin was originally spoken in the area around Rome, known as Latium. Through the power of the Roman Republic, it became the ...

Latin
''
publicusPublicus may refer to : *The Ager publicus is the Latin language name for the public land of the Roman Republic and Empire. * Cursus publicus was the courier service of the Roman Empire. ;See also * Publius (disambiguation) {{disambiguation ...

publicus
'' (also ''
poplicus
poplicus
''), from ''
populus ''Populus'' is a genus of 25–30 species of deciduous flowering plant The flowering plants, also known as Angiospermae (), or Magnoliophyta (), are the most diverse group of Embryophyte, land plants, with 64 Order(biology), orders, 416 Fam ...

populus
'', to the English word '
populace In biology, a population is a number A number is a mathematical object used to counting, count, measurement, measure, and nominal number, label. The original examples are the natural numbers 1, 2, 3, 4, and so forth. Numbers can be represen ...
', and in general denotes some mass population ("the people") in association with some matter of common interest. So in political science and history, a public is a population of individuals in association with civic affairs, or affairs of office or state. In social psychology, marketing, and public relations, a public has a more situational definition.
John Dewey John Dewey (; October 20, 1859 – June 1, 1952) was an American philosopher A philosopher is someone who practices philosophy. The term ''philosopher'' comes from the grc, φιλόσοφος, , translit=philosophos, meaning 'lover of wisdo ...
defined public as a group of people who, in facing a similar problem, recognize it and organize themselves to address it. Dewey's definition of a public is thus situational: people organized about a situation. Built upon this situational definition of a public is the
situational theory of publicsThe situational theory of publics defines that publics can be identified and classified in the context to which they are aware of the problem and the extent to which they do something about the problem. Overview The situational theory of publics, ...
by James E. Grunig , which talks of ''nonpublics'' (who have no problem), ''latent publics'' (who have a problem), ''aware publics'' (who recognize that they have a problem), and ''active publics'' (who do something about their problem). In public relations and communication theory, a public is distinct from a
stakeholder Stakeholder may refer to: *Stakeholder (corporate), a group, corporate, organization, member, or system that affects or can be affected by an organization's actions *Project stakeholder, a person, group, or organization with an interest in a projec ...
or a
market Market may refer to: *Market (economics) *Market economy *Marketplace, a physical marketplace or public market Geography *Märket, an island shared by Finland and Sweden Art, entertainment, and media Films *Market (1965 film), ''Market'' (1965 ...
. A public is a subset of the set of stakeholders for an organization, that comprises those people concerned with a specific issue. Whilst a market has an exchange relationship with an organization, and is usually a passive entity that is created by the organization, a public does not necessarily have an exchange relationship, and is both self-creating and self-organizing. Publics are targeted by public relations efforts. In this, ''target publics'' are those publics whose involvement is necessary for achieving organization goals; ''intervening publics'' are opinion formers and mediators, who pass information to the target publics; and ''influentials'' are publics that the target publics turn to for consultation, whose value judgements are influential upon how a target public will judge any public relations material. The public is often targeted especially in regard to political agendas as their vote is necessary in order to further the progression of the cause. As seen in Massachusetts between 2003 and 2004, it was necessary to "win a critical mass of states and a critical mass of public support" in order to get same-sex marriage passed in the commonwealth. Public relations theory perspectives on publics are situational, per Dewey and Grunig; mass, where a public is simply viewed as a population of individuals; agenda-building, where a public is viewed as a condition of political involvement that is not transitory; and "''
homo narrans ''Homo narrans'' ('storytelling human') is one of a number of binomial names for the human species modelled on the commonly used term ''Homo sapiens'' ('wise human'). The term posits the primacy of storytelling over, for example, language or reason ...
''", where a public is (in the words of Gabriel M. Vasquez, assistant professor in the School of Communication at the
University of Houston The University of Houston (UH) is a public research university in Houston, Texas, and the flagship institution of the University of Houston System. Founded in 1927, UH is the List of universities in Texas by enrollment, university in Texas with ...
) a collection of "individuals that develop a group consciousness around a problematic situation and act to solve the problematic situation" . Public schools are often under controversy for their "agenda-building," especially in debates over whether to teach a religious or secular curriculum. The promotion of an agenda is commonplace whenever one is in a public environment, but schools have exceptional power in that regard. In the public school system, it is the responsibility of those within the system to determine what agenda is being promoted. One non-situational concept of a public is that of Kirk Hallahan, professor at
Colorado State University Colorado State University (Colorado State or CSU) is a public In public relations and communication science, publics are groups of individual people, and the public (a.k.a. the general public) is the totality of such groupings. This is a ...
, who defines a public as "a group of people who relate to an organization, who demonstrate varying degrees of activity—passivity, and who might (or might not) interact with others concerning their relationship with the organization". Samuel Mateus's 2011 paper "Public as Social Experience" considered to view the concept by an alternative point of view: the public "is neither a simple audience constituted by media consumers nor just a rational-critical agency of a Public Sphere". He argued "the concept should also be seen in the light of a publicness principle, beyond a critic and manipulative publicity (...). In accordance, the public may be regarded as the result of the social activities made by individuals sharing symbolic representations and common emotions in publicness. Seen with lower-case, the concept is a set of subjectivities who look publicly for a feeling of belonging. So, in this perspective, the public is still a fundamental notion to social life although in a different manner in comparison to 18th century Public Sphere's Public. He means above all the social textures and configurations where successive layers of social experience are built up." The general public also sets social norms which causes people to express themselves in socially acceptable manners. Although this is present within every community, this is often especially applicable within the transgender community as they feel the need to "perform" to a certain set of expectations to be seen as their true gender.


Social publics

Social publics are groups of people united by common ideas, ideology, or hobbies. Networked publics are social publics which have been socially restructured by the networking of technologies. As such, they are simultaneously both (1) the space constructed through networked technologies and (2) the imagined collective which consequently emerges as a result of the intersection of human
persons A person (plural people or persons) is a being that has certain capacities or attributes such as reason Reason is the capacity of consciously applying logic by Logical consequence, drawing conclusions from new or existing information, with the ...

persons
, shared technologies, and their practices.


See also

*
Res publica ''Res publica'' (also spelt as ''rēs pūblica'' to indicate vowel length In linguistics, vowel length is the perceived length of a vowel sound: the corresponding physical measurement is length (phonetics), duration. In some languages vowel l ...
*
People A people is any plurality of person A person (plural people or persons) is a being that has certain capacities or attributes such as reason, morality, consciousness or self-consciousness, and being a part of a culturally established form of ...

People
*
Nation A nation is a community of people formed on the basis of a common language, history, ethnicity, or a common culture, and, in many cases, a shared territory. A nation is more overtly political than an ethnic group; it has been described as "a fully ...

Nation
*
Volk in Berlin Berlin ( , ) is the Capital city, capital and List of cities in Germany by population, largest city of Germany by both area and population. Its 3.7 million inhabitants make it the European Union's List of cities in the European Un ...

Volk
*
Audience An audience is a group of people who participate in a show or encounter a work of art A work of art, artwork, art piece, piece of art or art object is an artistic creation of aesthetics, aesthetic value. Except for "work of ...
*
Market segment In marketing Marketing refers to activities a company A company, abbreviated as co., is a Legal personality, legal entity representing an association of people, whether Natural person, natural, Legal personality, legal or a mixture of bo ...
*
Community A community is a social unit (a group of living things) with commonality such as norms, religion Religion is a social system, social-cultural system of designated religious behaviour, behaviors and practices, morality, morals, beliefs, wor ...

Community
*
Public opinion Public opinion is the collective opinion of the people of a society on a specific topic or voting intention. Democracy requires public opinion because it derives authority from the public. Etymology The term public opinion was derived from th ...


References


Bibliography

* * * * *


Further reading

* * * * Hannay, Alastair (2005) ''On the Public'' Routledge * Kierkegaard, Søren (2002) ''A Literary Review''; Alastair Hannay (trans.) London: Penguin * Lippmann, Walter. ''The Phantom Public'' (Library of Conservative Thought), Transaction Publishers; Reprint edition, January 1, 1993, . * Mayhew, Leon H. ''The New Public: Professional Communication and the Means of Social Influence'', (Cambridge Cultural Social Studies), Cambridge University Press, September 28, 1997, . * Sennett, Richard. ''The Fall of Public Man''. W. W. Norton & Company; Reissue edition, June 1992, . * {{ISSN, 2191-4990 Communication Public relations
Sociological terminology This category relates to sociological Sociology is the study of society A society is a Social group, group of individuals involved in persistent Social relation, social interaction, or a large social group sharing the same spatial or s ...
Political science Subfields of political science include international relations, comparative politics, public law, and political theory. Each subfield tends to overlap with other academic disciplines, such as political history, history, political philosophy, philos ...
Marketing {{Cat main, Marketing Articles relating to marketing Marketing refers to activities a company A company, abbreviated as co., is a Legal personality, legal entity representing an association of people, whether Natural person, natural, Legal ...