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Exploring an Absent Presence: Wayfinding as an Embodied Sociocultural Experience

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journal contribution
posted on 2022-12-13, 12:16 authored by Paul Symonds, David BrownDavid Brown, Valeria Lo Iacono

 Wayfinding has often been seen as being about the quickest or shortest possible route between two points (Hölscher et al 2011; Tam 2011; Haque et al 2006). Moreover, this process has very often been seen as a cognitive one, with the experiential nature of wayfinding and with the embodied, emotional and sociocultural aspects of this experience conspicuously absent. We argue that wayfinding is rarely a purely cognitive process that involves an individual person, who is entirely instrumental in navigating a direct and precise route, but instead that this is a process almost always directed according to embodied and sociocultural needs. We propose a reassessment of present wayfinding definitions and suggest an alternative understanding that includes sociocultural elements, embodied individuals and experience through their embodied senses, as crucial elements of the concept. Seeing wayfinding from this different sociocultural ontological viewpoint, opens up new ways of understanding and planning wayfinding systems. 


Published in

Sociological Research Online




  • AM (Accepted Manuscript)


Symonds, Paul, Brown, David H.K. and Lo Iacono, Valeria (2017) 'Exploring an absent presence: Wayfinding as an embodied sociocultural experience', Sociological Research Online, 22 (1), 5

Electronic ISSN


Cardiff Met Affiliation

  • Cardiff School of Sport and Health Sciences

Cardiff Met Authors

David Brown

Cardiff Met Research Centre/Group

  • Qualitative Research Methods and Social Theory

Copyright Holder

  • © The Publisher


  • en

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