On pedestrian crossings, censuses, and a sense of agency
A few months back, I wrote a post for Culture on the Edge, prompted by my frequent encounters with this sticker at a particular pedestrian crossing. In the post, I discuss the work performed by the buttons at pedestrian crossings and how it links with the work performed by multiple choice surveys, before concluding (perhaps pessimistically) that perhaps all ‘we’ can really hope for is, indeed, that sense of agency… rather than ‘agency itself’.
Below you’ll find the first paragraph of the post, and if it stimulates your interest I hope you will read more.
For the past few months, as I make the fifteen-minute walk between my residence and my office in Edinburgh, I have interacted with a particular pedestrian crossing. You know the kind with a button which we are supposed to dutifully press and then wait until the signal (here in the form of a somewhat generic, slim, green, male stick figure) gives us permission to cross the road? Some enterprising individual has taken this ubiquitous element of the Edinburgh cityscape and added their social commentary, in the form of a sticker reading ‘press the button to experience sense of agency.’ And this got me thinking…