We use cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website. By continuing to browse this repository, you give consent for essential cookies to be used. You can read more about our Privacy and Cookie Policy.

Durham Research Online
You are in:

In the absence of practice.

Harrison, P. (2009) 'In the absence of practice.', Environment and planning D : society and space., 27 (6). pp. 987-1009.


Increasingly the focus of social analysis and explanation is falling upon doings, on actions and practices, insofar as they are understood to be the origin rather than the effect of signification and meaning. This paper offers a sympathetic critique of such ‘ontologisation’ of practice, asking what is presumed about the human and the social when practice is taken as the primary social ‘thing’. The critique works by outlining, somewhat tentatively, a ‘phenomenology’ of dreamless sleep; a situation and a state in which a subject cannot be said to be doing anything at all. The figures that will be discussed below lie flat out; for the moment they have no bearing or gait, no focused or dispersed attention, no reflexive, deliberative or tacit understanding. This discussion is developed through a reading of Tim Ingold’s (2000) landmark essay “The temporality of the landscape” (in The Perception of the Environment Routledge), here taken as exemplary of a broad range of practice based approaches. While looking specifically at issues around skill, place, and sociality, the overarching claim of the paper is that thinking about sleep and about being a being which sleeps provides a way of touching on the susceptibility and finitude of corporeal existence. A susceptibility and a finitude which, I suggest, are the very condition of possibility of practice and action.

Item Type:Article
Full text:Full text not available from this repository.
Publisher Web site:
Date accepted:No date available
Date deposited:No date available
Date of first online publication:2009
Date first made open access:No date available

Save or Share this output

Look up in GoogleScholar