Avoiding the 'easy route': young peoples' socio-spatial experience of the outdoors in the absence of digital technology

Morse, Aimee ORCID: 0000-0002-5574-6040 and Emery, Steven B (2023) Avoiding the 'easy route': young peoples' socio-spatial experience of the outdoors in the absence of digital technology. Geoforum, 141. Art 103727. doi:10.1016/j.geoforum.2023.103727

12490 Morse, Emery (2023) Avoiding the 'easy route'- young people's socio-spatial experience of the outdoors in the absence of digital technology.pdf - Published Version
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Over-use of smartphones and under-engagement in outdoor pursuits are popularly touted as inter-dependent phenomena with various implications for the health and well-being of young people. At the same time, there has been a relative lack of social scientific scrutiny on the topic which, we contend, has been stifled by the imperative to avoid ontological distinctions between the ‘technological/virtual’ and the ‘real’, as well as deterministic renditions on the role of technology in social life. In this paper we provide evidence to reanimate this discussion by drawing into focus that, from the perspectives of young people themselves, there are and remain discernible differences in the socio-spatial relationships mediated by the presence/absence of technology in different settings. The empirical material draws on participant observation, walking- and group-interviews with young people taking part in the UK’s Duke of Edinburgh Award Scheme, which requires them to undertake outdoor expeditions without their smartphones. We use the metaphor of ‘avoiding the easy route’ to emphasise the differences in experience that manifest themselves for young people during co-present, and often more challenging, embodied encounters. We argue that co-present encounters with places and others are often fuller in terms of the breadth of embodied sensory experience, and often more difficult in terms of i) the kinaesthetic experience of place and ii) the non-selectivity of social relationships. The combination and sharing of these difficulties, we further argue, has a moral and political function in ordering young people's environmental and social values.

Item Type: Article
Article Type: Article
Uncontrolled Keywords: Digital geographies; Smartphones; Moral landscapes; Instagram; Outdoor education
Subjects: G Geography. Anthropology. Recreation > GV Recreation Leisure > GV191.2 Outdoor Life. Outdoor recreation.
Divisions: Schools and Research Institutes > Countryside and Community Research Institute
Research Priority Areas: Place, Environment and Community
Depositing User: Susan Turner
Date Deposited: 31 Mar 2023 16:35
Last Modified: 24 Nov 2023 13:55
URI: https://eprints.glos.ac.uk/id/eprint/12490

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