Mapping the complexity of public pedagogy scholarship: 1894-2010

Jennifer Sandlin, Michael P. O'Malley, Jake Burdick

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

198 Scopus citations


The term public pedagogy first appeared in 1894 and has been widely deployed as a theoretical construct in education research to focus on processes and sites of education beyond formal schooling, with a proliferation of its use by feminist and critical theorists occurring since the mid-1990s. This integrative literature review provides the first synthesis of public pedagogy research through a thematic analysis of a sample of 420 publications. Finding that the public pedagogy construct is often undertheorized and ambiguously presented in education research literature, the study identifies five primary categories of extant public pedagogy research: (a) citizenship within and beyond schools, (b) popular culture and everyday life, (c) informal institutions and public spaces, (d) dominant cultural discourses, and (e) public intellectualism and social activism. These categories provide researchers with a conceptual framework for investigating public pedagogy and for locating future scholarship. The study identifies the need for theoretical specificity in research that employs the public pedagogy construct and for empirical studies that investigate the processes of public pedagogy, particularly in terms of the learner's perspective.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)338-375
Number of pages38
JournalReview of Educational Research
Issue number3
StatePublished - Sep 2011


  • cultural studies
  • informal learning
  • popular culture
  • public intellectuals
  • public pedagogy

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education


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