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Public Meetings

Theresa Castor

Subject Linguistics
Communication Studies » Language and Social Interaction

DOI: 10.1111/b.9781405131995.2008.x


A public meeting is a gathering in which there are limited, if any, restrictions on who may participate. Public meetings, as an ideal, are a form of democracy (→  Public Sphere ), but in fact are often viewed as frustrating and futile. Researchers have studied issues and topics related to public meetings (e.g., leadership, public participation); there is now increased attention on studying public meetings themselves as structured communication events. Labeling an event as a meeting calls attention to the communicative dimensions of this activity. Communication scholars have examined public meetings as situations in which identity, social action, and culture, among other practices, are enacted. Scholars have specified two or, more commonly, three participants as a minimum for constituting a meeting. While people may gather in a variety of situations, not all gatherings are labeled as meetings; e.g., it would be unusual to call a gathering of friends a meeting. A meeting is explicitly framed as such by participants, but not all meetings are public. For those that are, the public may be involved as observers or participants. Public meetings usually have a specific structure and rules for participation (e.g., parliamentary procedures or Robert's Rules of Order ). One characteristic of public meetings that distinguishes them from organizational meetings is that the latter form is ... log in or subscribe to read full text

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