Kevin CLEMENTI, UMR SAGE 7363, Université de Strasbourg, France
Thierry RAMADIER, UMR SAGE 7363, Université de Strasbourg, France
The methodology of cognitive mapping allows objectifying the relationship to space, at least in certain respects (Jodelet, 1982): indeed, these maps collected through freehand drawing or other methods, provide clues to understanding how cognitive representations of space are structured and work. However, the way in which cognitive maps are scientifically considered depends on the epistemological point of view adopted by the researcher.
In this presentation, we wish to argue that cognitive representations of geographical space are comparable to metaphors, according to Kitchin’s (1994) classification. They are structured in two dimensions, a pictorial and conceptual one (Paivio, 1986), and are constructed through the working relationship between the processes of spatial and environmental cognition (Ramadier, 2020). Cognitive maps collected by researchers are based on topological relations and are not a reproduction of a “map” stored in memory.
Thus, cognitive maps should be seen as actively produced by individuals to achieve specific and socialized objectives: not only do cognitive maps address practical issues (e.g., travel, itinerary calculation) and communication issues (e.g., talking about a place, giving a context to an event) but they also deal with social issues. As a consequence, representations are the product of positioning (the self, the others, etc.) in both the social and geographical space.
We will draw our argumentation by discussing the results of two research. The former, explores the ways of attributing meanings to geographical elements over time and their impact on the topological arrangement in cognitive maps of Paris. The latter, investigates the inhabitatns relationship with the state border in Strasbourg: we will show that the position that geographical object “border” occupies within the collected maps can be explained both by its place in the spatial arrangement of the map and by its associated meanings.
Keywords: Cognitive maps|Spatial meaning|Individual-space relationship