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RGS-IBG 2013

by on September 2, 2013

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Last week I was down in London at this year’s Royal Geographical Society-Institute of British Geographers conference, the annual get-together for all aspiring geographers. Having attended this conference for the last few years, I was amazed by the sheer amount of sessions on Theories of Practice. There were sessions on mobilities and practice, methods for researching practices, governance and practice theories, and many others surrounding the practice of geography. Recognition of the ‘practice turn’ in contemporary theory has its provenance in Karin Cetina, Ted Schatzki and Eike von Savigny’s (2001) book, the implications for geography recently discussed by Everts et al., (2011).

I suppose the proliferation in sessions at this year’s RGS-IBG shouldn’t be a surprise given, for example, the heated exchanges between Elizabeth Shove and Lorraine Whitmarsh (and colleagues) in Environment and Planning A (see volumes 42(6) and 43(2)). Indeed, I was lucky enough to be in Elizabeth Shove’s Early Career Working Party, part of her Transitions in Practice fellowship.

What surprises me, is that as recently as 2008, Tom Hargreaves and I ran some PERG sessions on innovative methods for behaviour change – in five short years, practice theories have become the dominant lens (at least based on RGS-IBG 2013) for analysing human activity. Perhaps this is a consequence of initiatives such as Elizabeth’s working party, since very many members of the working party were organising or presenting in the various RGS-IBG sessions.

These reflections, and others gained during RGS-IBG, were what compelled me to start this blog. I have been considering doing this for a while, inspired by the blogs of a few geographers (see my blogroll) and encouraged by how useful I’ve found other social media such as twitter. Until now I have hesitated, concerned that I wouldn’t have anything useful to say…but having recently read a great article by Mark Carrigan about why academics should blog (in preparation for giving a PhD workshop as part of the Advanced Research Training for Scottish Postgraduate Human Geographers (Kindrogan Consortium) on the importance of an online presence), I decided to bite the bullet.  With my new ESRC research project on Smarter Homes starting next month, it seemed like the ‘right’ time. You can find out more about the project using the tabs at the top of this page, and I will post updates and reflections on this blog as the project evolves.

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For more photos see RGS-IBG on Facebook (credit to them for the photos, even if they aren’t all that flattering!)

Cetina, K., Schatzki, T., and von Savigny, E (2001) The Practice Turn in Contemporary Theory, Oxon: Routledge.

Everts, J., Lahr-Kurten, M, and Watson, M (2011) Practice Matters! Geographical inquiry and theories of practice, Erdkunde, 65(4) 323-334.

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