Researching walking is a necessary tangent

My research, although primarily concerned with and situated within the creative and cultural industries area, utilises theories, approaches, and methodologies more typical of other disciplines. The use of walking in cities as a means of exploring actual spaces and spaces of knowing simultaneously has tendrils that extend back into 18th Century artistic practice, through 19th Century intellectual pursuits, and, more recently, in the academic processes of psychogeographic enquiry across a range of disciplines, all focussed on the interrelationships between the human and the city. The history of urban walking is thus a history of the city itself, charting the formations and transformations of the city as both space and concept, through the lens of the pedestrian encounter. 

The interdisciplinarity present within this research, most pressingly perhaps within its methodological approach, has demanded an excavation of knowledge and thought that has, up to now, existed somewhat tangentially to the core creative and cultural industries literature. As a result, it has been necessary to first establish the theoretical framework for this research, and to justify, through a critical historical reflection upon urban walking practice from both artistic and intellectual realms, the choice of walking as this thesis’ method. My ongoing research into, and critical reflection upon, the history of walking knowledge and urban walking in particular, seeks to establish the epistemological context for this study. 

Specifically, three significant fields of study function as the core theoretical network that underpin the methodological section of my research and foreground the rest of the thesis to follow. These are: I) the flaneur/flaneuse, ii) psychogeography, and iii) urban exploration. Each of these moments in the history of urban walking practice, salient for a myriad of reasons and useful for my research in a multitude of ways, exist within what might be collectively termed the field of cultural geography, and operate at the intersection of a broadly defined urban studies and sociology crossover. The first three chapters in this section of my PhD, 'A Philosophy of Walking', ‘Walking Knowledge’, and ‘A History of City Walking’, seek to explore these crossovers, and provide the epistemological foundation for the analysis of the experiential geographies of the urban creative and cultural industries that is the core remit of this research.