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Durham University

Department of Geography

Staff Profile

Publication details

Atkinson, S.J. & Scott, K.E. Stable and destabilised states of subjective wellbeing: dance and movement as catalysts of transition. Social and Cultural Geography. 2015;16:75-94.

Author(s) from Durham


The pursuit of subjective well-being has become an important object of policy and personal action, which within geography has been engaged largely by those with an interest in health. But to date, geography has given little attention to the ways in which subjective well-being changes and in particular, the ways in which it may be understood as both stable and amenable to change. Similarly, the field of arts and health asserts the value of participation in the creative arts for enhancing subjective well-being, but has also hardly addressed how this may come about. The paper explores stability and change in well-being through a case study of a dance and movement intervention in an English primary school. We draw on Deleuze and Guattari's notions of assemblages and of striated and smooth space to explore how participation in the arts may enable escape from habituated practices. This exploration expands the scope of geographies of health towards capturing the moments and processes through which transitions in subjective well-being may occur. The study indicates the need for greater attention to gentler and gendered forms of transition.