Walking fosters self‐efficacy, empathy, and connection, and large and small democratic actions. Such capacity seems especially the case when walking is attended by certain spatial qualities that engender, for instance, physical accessibility, a capacity to socialise, a sense of safety, or a pleasing aesthetic. Sometimes, adverse spatial alternatives dominate and then – at very least – indifference seems to loom large and spatial injustices prevail. And in the worst conditions, indifference and injustice tip over into fear and danger. This paper's orientation is towards optimism, however. Our conceptual focus is on the relationship of walking to geography and philosophical pragmatism, and on small and effective antidotes to indifference and injustice. Our empirical contributions come from a qualitative research project in Wollongong, Australia, and specifically from conversations with 25 adult residents who shared with us their experiences of regular walks in the city centre. We interpret those experiences in pragmatic terms as transactions – or experiments in what to do and how – in relation to self, others, and environs. We show how participants are affected by walks and the transactional spaces created by them, and consider how they come to care for things that might not directly concern or affect them. In the process, we discern that they experience how their actions shape and can enrich life in the city – findings that have wider salience for those interested in spatial qualities, spatial justice, and democratising impulses.
cities, democracy, social justice, spatial justice, walking, Australia, Wollongong