Civic studies is an emerging field that considers public problems and issues from the perspective of citizens, understood as co-creators of their worlds. What knowledge, skills, strategies, and values do citizens themselves require in order to create a good community or a just society? What methods are available to provide citizens with the ideas they need? Posing these questions implies a significant change in mainstream scholarship across most disciplines.
Civic Studies builds on, and incorporates, abstract theoretical work, various forms of empirical research, and reflections about civic practices. It draws on the Nobel Prize winning work of Elinor Ostrom on overcoming the problem of collective action. It is inspired by the theories of Jürgen Habermas, Roberto Mangabeira Unger, Brent Flyvbjerg, Harry Boyte, and Philip Selznick as well as Friedrich Hayek and others. It incorporates "thinking constitutionally" (Stephen Elkin) and "eunomics" (Lon Fuller). It draws upon empirical research on deliberation, public work, and social capital, in addition to the writings of civic practitioners such as Mohandas Gandhi, Saul Alinsky and Marshall Ganz.
The chapters in this volume examine various approaches to civic studies, such as the study and practice of deliberative democracy and collaborative governance, social science as phronesis, Community-Based Participatory Research (CBPR) and Participatory Action Research (PAR), and Civic Science public work. The chapters, written by representatives of these approaches, reflect on how each relates to research, teaching, and working for social change.