|Title||Navigating the walkways: Radical inquiries and mental maps|
|Tag(s)||EMCA, Walking, Mental, Foundationalism, Public Space|
This paper provides consideration of “mental maps” as an analytic device, and the im- portation of foundational theorising in new disciplinary environments. “Mental maps” – as representations, mental imagery, even a shared “mental topography” – is a popular and readily available device with which to conceptualise how we orient to our world (Gould & White 1974). The deployment of “mental maps” is frequent and extends be- yond psychology (Blaut et al. 2003; Lloyd 2000; Lobben 2004; Xirogiannis et al. 2004), as conceptualisations reliant upon mental representations and cognition theories en- croach upon other disciplines. This does not mean that the psychologistic reductions in- volved in the importation of mental maps as interdisciplinary work are diluted: the cog- nitivism of mental maps is preserved in new interdisciplinary settings. Mental maps, as “explanatory fctions” (Coulter 1979), provide cover for analysts searching for patterns that draw together a patchwork of “data” (e.g. Matei et al. 2001). What I suggest in this paper is that mental maps are themselves iterative of foundational- ist approaches; that mental maps are inappropriate means to describe social organisa- tional phenomena; that the appeal to mental maps adds unnecessary complexity to analyses; and that mental maps work to distance the reader of analyses from the phe- nomena that they purportedly describe.