Bridger, Alexander J. (2016) Walking the radical talk. The psychologist, 29 (4). pp. 276-279. ISSN 0952-8229

The majority of the general public and indeed many psychologists would probably not associate walking and getting lost as ‘research’. However, many artists, poets, activists and more recently academics in disciplines such as psychology, geography and architecture have used the practice of what is called ‘psychogeographical walking’ to reflectively and politically make sense of our relations to environments as well as to consider what future non-capitalist towns and cities could look like. Some readers may be familiar with the following work by: Engels (1845) and his accounts of the poverty encountered by the working classes in cities such as Manchester and London; Chtcheglov’s (1958) reflections on Paris and how working class districts were effectively dismantled to make way for shopping arcades in the late 1950s and de Quincey’s (1822) writings about his walks around Paris and London in an opium haze. Such work has informed and inspired the types of readings of environments conducted by psychogeographers both past and present. In more recent years in television programmes such as The Perfect Home presented by architectural theorist Alain de Botton and Grand Designs presented by Kevin McCloud we are encouraged to think about how built environments make us feel and to consider what ideal living spaces could look like. Whilst such programmes are useful to get audiences to consider the emotional effects of environments and to provide ideas for how our living and working environments can be changed, such attempts for change stop at the point of only getting us to consider immediate physical changes rather than considering alternatives to the capitalist order of things. This indeed is a point raised by various environmental psychologists such as Uzzell and Räthzel (2009), that I argue needs to be considered seriously in considering the implications of the types of psychological knowledge that we produce and what such knowledge manages to change in the discipline and also in society.

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