Cities for citizens! Public value spheres for understanding conflicts in urban planning

Rico Herzog*, J. E. Goncalves, G. Slingerland, R.J. Kleinhans, Holger Prang, F.M. Brazier, T. Verma

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

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Identifying the diverse and often competing values of citizens, and resolving the consequent public value conflicts, are of significant importance for inclusive and integrated urban development. Scholars have highlighted that relational, value-laden urban space gives rise to many diverse conflicts that vary both spatially and temporally. Although notions of public value conflicts have been conceived in theory, there are few empirical studies that identify such values and their conflicts in urban space. Building on public value theory and using a case-study mixed-methods approach, this paper proposes a new approach to empirically investigate public value conflicts in urban space. Using unstructured participatory data of 4528 citizen contributions from a Public Participation Geographic Information Systems in Hamburg, Germany, natural language processing and spatial clustering techniques are used to identify areas of potential value conflicts. Four expert interviews assess and interpret these quantitative findings. By integrating quantitative assessments with the qualitative findings of the interviews, we identify 19 general public values and nine archetypical conflicts. On the basis of these results, this paper proposes a new conceptual model of ‘Public Value Spheres’ that extends the understanding of public value conflicts and helps to further account for the value-laden nature of urban space.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages19
JournalUrban Studies: an international journal for research in urban studies
Publication statusPublished - 2023


  • natural language processing
  • public participation
  • public values
  • spatial conflict
  • urban planning


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