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Humanities 2018, 7(1), 18; https://doi.org/10.3390/h7010018

A Year in the Life of a Public Park: Route-Making, Vigilance and Sampling Time Whilst Walking

Wolfson Research Institute for Health and Wellbeing, Durham University, Durham DH1, UK
Received: 22 October 2017 / Revised: 10 February 2018 / Accepted: 18 February 2018 / Published: 21 February 2018
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Abstract

This paper offers a systematic, experimental, walking methodology to facilitate an ethnography of a major urban public park undertaken in the north-east of England in 2009–10. Ethnography puts the body in-place, placing the senses within the streams of life to be observed through experience; walking is one means of so doing. Walking traditions have frequently been used to observe, record and analyse the minutiae of urban life, with recent qualitative methodologies seeking to use walking to underpin ethnographies. Walking must negotiate the specificity of place and time, with all walks taking place in a real-world of materially, spatially, complex, vital and rhythmic landscapes. My aim was to systematically capture some of these patterns. Ethnographies typically use sustained field-based immersion; yet, some research utilises sampling strategies to guide observational procedures. Combining these methodologies allowed me to develop a methodology with three objectives: to create a series of routes to be followed; routes which allowed me to both scan and closely observe distant, and proximate, surroundings; and to construct a diurnal, weekly “sampling” frame, which allowed me to “immerse” myself within the park’s life through repeatedly walking these routes, building up a picture of everyday life, whilst (hopefully) capturing unscheduled events. View Full-Text
Keywords: ethnography; phenomenology; walking; digital mapping; assemblage; sampling; dwelling; therapeutic landscapes; urban public parks ethnography; phenomenology; walking; digital mapping; assemblage; sampling; dwelling; therapeutic landscapes; urban public parks
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Medford, W. A Year in the Life of a Public Park: Route-Making, Vigilance and Sampling Time Whilst Walking. Humanities 2018, 7, 18.

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