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A relational approach to walking: methodology, metalanguage, and power relations


Stratford, E and Waitt, G and Harada, T, A relational approach to walking: methodology, metalanguage, and power relations, Geographical Research, 59, (1) pp. 91-105. ISSN 1745-5871 (2021) [Refereed Article]

Copyright Statement

Copyright 2020 Institute of Australian Geographers

DOI: doi:10.1111/1745-5871.12400


To better understand walking practices and the power relations informing them, Mattias Kärrholm and colleagues argue for a relational methodology and metalanguage. In the process, they propose a threefold approach: (a) identify different walking assemblages; (b) investigate how diverse types of walking assemblage relate in series; and (c) study how certain objects can gather or bind series together and act as boundary objects. In this article, we explore the worth of that approach, drawing on research interviews held over 2015-16 with residents from Wollongong, Australia, during a period when their municipal government was implementing a walkable city strategy. Here, we analyse participants' conversations with us for what they reveal about walking types, walking assemblages, interseriality, objects of passage, and boundary objects - five terms used by Kärrholm et al. to interrogate urban walking. Our work suggests that participants are adept at gauging the constant transformations that characterise their walks. This narrative evaluative capacity is, perhaps paradoxically, both compelling and mundane and suggests that participants make sense of a range of meanings from complex social and spatial dynamics and do so in ways that highlight privilege and disadvantage in the city. These findings have wider relevance for those interested in walking and mobilities studies and methodologies.

Item Details

Item Type:Refereed Article
Keywords:metalanguage, methodology, power relations, relational thinking, walking assemblage, Wollongong, Australia
Research Division:Human Society
Research Group:Human geography
Research Field:Social geography
Objective Division:Expanding Knowledge
Objective Group:Expanding knowledge
Objective Field:Expanding knowledge in human society
UTAS Author:Stratford, E (Professor Elaine Stratford)
ID Code:139867
Year Published:2021 (online first 2020)
Funding Support:Australian Research Council (LP140100088)
Web of Science® Times Cited:2
Deposited By:Geography and Spatial Science
Deposited On:2020-07-10
Last Modified:2021-09-02

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