Cities for Citizens: Identification of Public Values and their Conflicts in Urban Space

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In the wake of more inclusive and sustainable cities, as targeted in the UN’s Sustainable Development Goal 11, public administrators and urban planners aspire to incorporate the pluralism of public values into decision making. Although theoretical work exists since the 1990, public values and their conflicts are yet to be empirically identified and applied in a context of relational urban space. This study makes use of a case study-mixed methods approach combining a quantitative strand to identify public values and their conflicts from geo-located citizen contributions using natural language processing with a qualitative strand that leverages expert workshops. Integrating the findings from both strands embedded in the case study of Hamburg, Germany, there is evidence for a broader conceptualization of public values. In a new conceptual tool named "public value spheres", the main identified public values of social equity, livability, economic opportunity, ecologic quality, safety, health and conservatism are displayed. A total of nine archetypical spatial public value conflicts were found within Hamburg, among them the newly identified "externality conflict", "dangers of nature conflict" and the "drawback of beauty conflict". The findings provide urban planners and practitioners with a new tool to account for the value-laden nature of relational urban space in future participatory processes. The citizenry itself could profit from a better discourse due to aggregation of voices in participatory tools and a transparent mapping of public values that creates a sense of the pluralism of public values within a city. Future research is needed to expand the conceptual tool of public value spheres with case studies of different cities and to investigate possible constituting socioeconomic factors of public values within urban planning.