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Durham University

Department of Sociology

Sociology Department Staff

Publication details for Emeritus Professor David S. Byrne

Uprichard, E. & Byrne, D. (2006). Representing Complex Places: A Narrative Approach. Environment and Planning A 38(4): 665-676.

Author(s) from Durham


The authors argue that narratives—the plural being very important—are crucial for the representation of complex urban spaces. They do this by drawing on first-hand empirical examples from a previous examination of people’s understanding of ‘postindustrial transformation’ from the past through the present to the future, and earlier work on children’s understanding of their own places in the present and the future. In so doing, they propose that the use of narratives must be part of the repertoire of approaches used to represent complex urban systems. This does not imply an abandonment of interest in or search for causal generative mechanisms in system change. Rather, it is a recognition that narratives enable human actors to express the meaning that underlies their own agency as part of their account of the trajectories of places.


Special Issue on Complexity and Space.