In this paper we consider the importance of ‘walking… just walking’ for many children and young people’s everyday lives. We will show how, in our research with 175 9-16-year-olds living in new urban developments in south-east England, some particular (daily, taken-for-granted, ostensibly aimless) forms of walking were central to the lives, experiences and friendships of most children and young people. The main body of the paper highlights key characteristics of these walking practices, and their constitutive role in these children and young people’s social and cultural geography. Over the course of the paper we will argue that ‘everyday pedestrian practices’ (after Middleton 2010, 2011) like these require us to think critically about two bodies of geographical and social scientific research. On one hand, we will argue that the large body of research on children’s spatial range and independent mobility could be conceptually enlivened and extended to acknowledge bodily, social, sociotechnical and habitual practices. On the other hand, we will suggest that the empirical details of such practices should prompt critical reflection upon the wonderfully rich, multidisciplinary vein of conceptualisation latterly termed ‘new walking studies’ (Lorimer 2011). Indeed, in conclusion we shall argue that the theoretical vivacity of walking studies, and the concerns of more applied empirical approaches such as work on children’s independent mobility, could productively be interrelated. In so doing we open out a wider challenge to social and cultural geographers, to expedite this kind of interrelation in other research contexts.
- Children’s geographies
- children and young people
- children’s independent mobility
- new walking studies