“the study of the specific effects of the geographical environment (whether consciously organized or not) on the emotions and behavior of individuals”.

This way of exploring the environment encourages playfulness, which challenged authorities as loitering was not considered cultured. It is linked to the situationists who were a group of ‘social revolutionaries’. Their aim was to weaken the barriers between culture and everyday life. They studied the urban environment by ‘Derive’ or ‘Drift’, which involved ignoring the pressures of society and allowing themselves to wonder the terrain, studying whatever attracted them. 

‘Flaneur’- meaning ‘stroller’ or ‘loafer’ 1870s

An urban ‘spectator’, opposing capitalist societies rushing materialistic nature. A ‘flaneur’ would stroll around the city, watching and investigating the environment around himself. This was looked down upon in society at the time, due to the lax nature of the act.

” I could tell you how many steps make up the streets rising like stairways, and the degree of the arcades’ curves, and what kind of zinc scales cover the roofs; but I already know that this would be the same as telling you nothing. The city does not consist of this, but of relationships between the measurements of space and the events of its past”. —Italo Calvino, Invisible Cities, 1974 

Calculations of the city does not tell you anything more about the environment. It simply tells you of the structure of the environment. It was thought by situationists/flaneurs that the important part of the urban area was the effects of time on the environment and the impact of events. 

Modern day Flaneurs- encouraged in this modern day society. It is normal to see people alone sitting outside a coffee shop watching the world go by. It is encouraged to go out wondering through apps like Pokemon Go. The response to being a ‘loafer’ have changed dramatically over time.


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