take it easy – and write about the literature review

foto (2)Today I will take it easy. I have been working hard besides being sick for the past week. Yep PhD lifestyle is not always writing beautiful words in a beautiful spot!

By ‘take it easy’ I mean staying inside of the box and not changing the main subject of 99% of my thoughts at the moment. For the past month I have been working on the literature review and theoretical framework of my thesis, and this is what this post is about. Yes, that was the objective for #AcWriMo this year. But no, it is not finished yet. However I am going ‘home’ (to Brazil) in a couple of weeks, and this chapter has to be done before I travel. This is my ultimate goal for the rest of this year!

The core of my research is how collective values, meanings and identity affect how climate is perceived in different cultures. To understand what has been done to date and explain where this research is going, this chapter is divided in three main parts:

  • The first part examines thermal comfort studies, studies on adaptation, studies developed in different climatic regions, and how design – both in Landscape Architecture and Urban Design – has taken microclimate into account.
  • The second and third parts relate to less technical and scientific issues and is focused on socio-cultural studies related to the landscape and urban environment.
  • The last part is the theory framework itself. Urban comfort is the construct I have been discussing. It combines thermal comfort with socio-cultural meanings attached to landscape and urban environment.

The argument is that there is more than physiology, psychology and behaviour involved on the process of perceiving climate and comfort. This something else is possibly related to the collective memory and identity of specific places and the activities that are part of the everyday lives. As a result a specific image is shaped and to ‘fit in’ that category/place there is a set of perceptions and behaviours that provide a collective sense of ‘normality’ and would require adaptation in some ways.

I am studying New Zealand, especially Christchurch, so roughly speaking I am dealing with the ‘tough-outdoor-100% pure-kiwi-image’.

  • Does this image have any influence on adaptation to the climate?
  • Do we do what we do, because ‘this is the way of doing it’?
  • Does the urban environment have to respond to a specific set of characteristics of the local lifestyle?
  • If it does, would it improve liveability?

Well… These questions are very close to have an answer on my research, but are also still partly lingering in my mind (they probably always will!).

Below is how this Literature Review + Theoretical Framework (2.4) chapter is structured at the moment. After writing this post I am thinking that 2.2 and 2.3 are probably going to be one section. Seems to make more sense than as it is. So dear reader, if you are reading this post until here, thanks for supporting this blog… Writing really clarifies ideas!

It is a work in progress, but the chapter at the moment is structured in four main sections:

2.1. Studies on human behaviour towards climate
          2.1.1. Thermal comfort
            Thermal perception
            Outdoor comfort
            Adaptive models
          2.1.2. Adaptation to climate
           Climate change
          2.1.3. Microclimate in different climatic regions
          2.1.4. (Micro)Climate Design
           Landscape Architecture
           Urban design
          2.1.5. Studies on human thermal comfort and microclimate in New Zealand

……………….. FIRST DRAFT DONE UP TO HERE – 15 pages

2.2. Urban living
           2.2.1. Urbanity
           2.2.2. Symbolic interaction
           2.2.4. City life in New Zealand

2.3. Local cultures
          2.3.1. Symbolic Landscapes
          2.3.2. Cultural behaviour
          2.3.3. Natural and built environment
          2.3.4. The meaning of quality of life
          2.3.5. Quality of life in New Zealand

2.4. Urban comfort
         The theoretical framework

…………………. 50% OF FIRST DRAFT DONE

Any ideas of things I am missing here?! Please let me know if you have any comments!

2 thoughts on “take it easy – and write about the literature review”

  1. Firstly, thank you for putting down your flow of ideas here. I have been trying to figure out how to write my essays (not as big a deal, clearly) and this has helped structure my rather chaotic thoughts.

    Just a quick comment: do issues of Zoning (symbolic landscapes) and the role of traditional knowledge (Cultural behaviour) already get incorporated into your structure? Unless that already gets touched upon?
    Perhaps this clarification is for my own selfish needs!

    1. Hello CyanideAndCoffee!

      I discuss symbolic landscapes from the perspective of space (any geometric area) and place (a space with an attributed meaning). Following this rationale (basically Tim Cresswell and Yi-Fu Tuan’s perspectives) I argue that this ‘attribution of meaning’ depends on the local culture.

      I changed the title of the section ‘cultural behaviour’ to ‘local cultures’. Local cultures relate to the meanings attributed to places and things in different locations and cultures. The developed meanings will depend both on the affordances (what the environment offers to accomodate certain habits) and how people – from that specific location and culture – relate both to the places and to each other (symbolic interactionism).

      I am not sure what you mean by ‘zoning’ and ‘traditional knowledge’ in this context, but hope this helps. Let me know if you’d like any further discussion.


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