Co-operation and conflict on the canal: hydrosocial convivialities on the inland waterways

Research output: Contribution to conferenceAbstractpeer-review


There are over 3,000 miles of navigable inland waterways in England and Wales, mostly managed by the Canal and River Trust. These waterways have transformed from having a transport function during the Industrial Revolution, to dereliction in the first half of the 20th century, and to leisure use in a contemporary context. The canals are linear and liminal, hydro-social places that connect urban and rural, constructed and wild, human and nonhuman, symbolic and material, and historic and contemporary; they are meeting places for a wide variety of groups, including boaters, anglers, cyclists, walkers, runners, and others. With people using the waterways for different and sometimes spatially conflicting purposes, such as dwelling, work, recreation, leisure and commuting and with the waterways running through (and sometimes in parallel with) distinct districts and spaces pertaining to different regulatory stakeholders and public bodies, they have also become potential places of tension. This paper will explore how different understandings of sharing and shared space on the canal network, as well as freedom and control, can create challenges in terms of governance and place management. Our research is a broad-based ethnographic study undertaken on the canals of England and Wales in 2015-2018, with the main methods of data collection being participant observation involving field notes and photography, and indepth interviews and focus group discussions with canal users and key stakeholders.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 4 Apr 2019
Event 14th Conference of the European Sociological Association: Environment and Society - Manchester, United Kingdom
Duration: 20 Aug 201923 Aug 2019


Conference 14th Conference of the European Sociological Association
Country/TerritoryUnited Kingdom


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