'Walking... just walking': how children and young people's everyday pedestrian practices matter

John Horton, Pia Christensen, Peter Kraftl, Sophie Hadfield-Hill

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59 Citations (Scopus)
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This paper considers the importance of walking for many children and young people's everyday lives, experiences and friendships. Drawing upon research with 175 9- to 16-year-olds living in new urban developments in south-east England, we highlight key characteristics of (daily, taken-for-granted, ostensibly aimless) walking practices, which were of constitutive importance in children and young people's friendships, communities and geographies. These practices were characteristically bounded, yet intense and circuitous. They were vivid, vital, loved, playful, social experiences yet also dismissed, with a shrug, as 'just walking'. We argue that 'everyday pedestrian practices' (after Middleton 2010, 2011) like these require critical reflection upon chief social scientific theorisations of walking, particularly the large body of literature on children's independent mobility and the rich, multi-disciplinary line of work known as 'new walking studies'. In arguing that these lines of work could be productively interrelated, we propound 'just walking'-particularly the often-unremarked way it matters-as a kind of phenomenon which is sometimes done a disservice by chief lines of theory and practice in social and cultural geography.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)94-115
Number of pages22
JournalSocial and Cultural Geography
Issue number1
Early online date2 Dec 2013
Publication statusPublished - 2014


  • children's geographies
  • walking
  • mobility
  • children's independent mobility
  • new walking studies
  • Children and young people


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