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Seasonal climate change and the indoor city worker

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Abstract

Statistical studies indicate that many people across the industrial west are decreasingly inclined to respond to seasons by behaving differently during particular phases of the year and one of the most popular explanations is they are now spending more time than ever within climatically controlled indoor environments. Yet, whilst this trend has clear implications for issues that range from sustainable resource use to wider human wellbeing, little is currently known about the cultural dynamics involved and how they are subjectively experienced. This paper argues that geographers are well placed to address this issue and demonstrates one way of doing so by using concepts of social practice to examine the working lives of professional office workers in London. Superficially this group would seem to be leading the march indoors as they spend long periods cocooned within corporate blocks pumped full of mechanically conditioned air. It was therefore worth examining the degree to which they were already insulated from the experience of seasonal change and the extent to which they ever struggled against this condition. This paper does so by considering how easily they were captured by habits that effectively rendered them oblivious to this gradual environmental process. It ends by reflecting on the wider implications of this situation in terms of usefully disrupting routine behaviour and studying climate change.

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