Dr Nick Mahony – Co-investigator (Creating Publics)

Dr Nick Mahony

Dr Nick Mahony


Nick was one of five co-investigators working on the Catalyst project. His main roles on the project were to:

  • help plan and co-ordinate the work of one of the two Catalyst Research Associates;
  • mentor relevant public engagement projects;
  • contribute to career development and training programmes; and,
  • translate findings and relevant insights from the Creating Publics project into the context of the Catalyst.


Nick’s main research interests are in contemporary publics, emerging forms of participatory and democratic culture and practice and the politics of mediation. His main focus currently is on the Creating Publics project, a three-year a research and development project, supported by The Open University, which aims to innovate new ways of conceptualising and enacting public engagement with social science research.

Nick is also a Co-investigator (Principal Investigator, Prof John Clarke) on the ESRC funded International Partnership and Networking Grant Making publics across time and space. For this, he is helping to set up a new collaborative network between the North American ‘Making Publics’ research team and CCIG’s Publics Research Programme.

With Clive Barnett and Janet Newman, Nick was a co-investigator and co-organiser of the 2008-2010 ESRC Seminar Series Emergent Publics. One output of this was the volume Rethinking the Public. Following this, Nick then co-authored (with Clive Barnett) Segmenting Publics, a report commissioned by the National Coordinating Centre for Public Engagement and the ESRC to analyse the benefits and difficulties of using public segmentation techniques for public engagement in the HE sector.

Between 2009-2010 Nick was an ESRC funded Post Doctoral Research Fellow and designed and prototyped The Experimental Democracy Console – a web archive that begins to allow users to sort and relate the growing range of contemporary public participation experiments taking place across the domains of formal politics, media, commerce, social movement activism, media and arts. A more elaborate version of this web resource is currently in development, in collaboration with the department of Politics and International Studies and OpenLearn.

Working under the auspices of CCIG’s Publics Research Programme, Nick has organised a range of research and more public events. These include: the June 2012 international workshop Creating publics, creating democracies (in collaboration with Goldsmiths College and University of Westminster); the 2012-14 Creating Publics keynote lecture series; the April 2011 workshop ‘Crisis of Participation; Participating in Crisis’ (in collaboration with the International Centre for Participation Studies, University of Bradford); and the 2010-2011 CCIG event series that addressed the theme ‘Big Cuts, Big Society’, involving a range of Third Sector participants.


Nick has studied and worked at the Open University since 2004, when he began his PhD in the Faculty of Social Sciences. His PhD analysed and compared the versions of the public and politics that were constituted and performed through three large-scale participatory political experiments – one of which was a social movement exercise, one of which was a local government initiative and one a reality television programme.

Since then Nick has worked, firstly as a Research Associate, then as a Research Fellow in the Centre for Citizenship, Identities and Governance which is an interdisciplinary research centre located in the Faculty of Social Sciences.

Nick is a member of the ESRC’s peer review college and a member of the advisory board for the Leverhulme funded research project Making Science Public. A selection of Nick’s research publications can be viewed at The Open University’s Open Research Online.