Maps and Journeys: an Ethnomethodological Investigation
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The notion of the ‘cognitive map’ has long been central to studies of maps, wayfinding and navigation. In this paper we provide an alternate approach to what are often mistakenly taken to be private mental processes which resituates them as shared social and cultural practices. Our study draws on the corpus studies of ethnomethodology and conversation analysis. We use video data of two episodes of naturally-organised map reading to explore how journeying with maps is inevitably and unavoidably part of the in situ organisation of other matters such as workplace tasks, means of transportation, having a ‘nice day out’ and maintaining friendships and so on. In our first clip a saleswoman consults an A-Z while stopped at traffic lights in order to plan the journey ahead. In the second clip, a group of friends consult a map as they set off for a daytrip together in a car. We use these clips to provide thick descriptions and to explore the logical properties of actual sequences of map use.