chapter  19
12 Pages

Psychogeography and the study of social environments: extending visual methodological research in psychology


Introduction In this chapter, I will reflect upon how walking can be used as a visual method, and how experiences of walking, writing narrative accounts and creating subverted maps can all contribute to the study of subjective experience and material environments. This work extends qualitative research in psychology in arguing for a ‘turn to place’ in psychology. The rationale for this work is to evaluate the extent to which the situationist concepts of détournement and the dérive can be used as strategies for visual research. I will refer to empirical examples from my research at Ground Zero, New York to substantiate the claims made. The aims are not only to interpret environments as social texts and to reflect on our experiences of being in places but also more importantly to question what can often be the taken for granted ways in which we think about and experience the world. It is important to challenge the ways in which we would ordinarily identify or associate with our surroundings so that we can dissociate ourselves in places in order to begin to imagine what environments of the future could look like. Although I, like the situationists, do not aim to map out what future environments would look like, because this is something that would be decided by the people through radical action. I offer my analysis as one possible way to interpret environments but it is important to acknowledge the plurality of ways in which environments can be studied. The situationists aimed to understand social environments as texts in order to envision what non-capitalist cities would look like, although they never stated what these environments would look like. In this work I will reflect on the extent to which this is possible within psychological research.1