The Spreadable City: Urban Exploration and Connective Media

Maja Klausen, André Jansson

Research output: Contribution to conference without publisher/journalConference abstract for conferenceResearchpeer-review


More than any other space, cities are shaped by a plethora of competing interests and interventions of various groups. What should a city look like? Who should have access to particular urban places? Such questions raise continuous public debates. Since the mid-1990s urban exploration has emerged as an alternative form of organized action that actively problematizes spatial power and control in contemporary cities. Urban explorers try to find, access, explore and document places that are abandoned, secret and/or located on the fringes of the city. Their practices can be seen as place-political in a dual sense; partly because they challenge existing regulations and norms, partly because they engage in the circulation of alternative images of the city. Urban explor- ers thus intervene in the production of space on representational as well as material levels. However, as the current paper shows, urban exploration is not a homogenous community. Rather, it is made up by a relatively diverse set of approaches, not least when it comes to attitudes towards various connective media. While certain groups see themselves as urban entrepreneurs, ultimately as brands, and promote their urban imageries according to the logics of spreadability, others operate in greater secrecy and try to maintain the exclusivity and authenticity of their experiences. It is thus possible to conceive of urban exploration as a cultural sub-field where different ethical and cultural attitudes compete, not just in terms of what urban exploration should be, but also in relation to the symbolic construction of cities in times of extended mediatiza- tion and commercialization. The paper begins with a preliminary assessment of this field, based on 12 interviews and go-alongs among urban explorers in Sweden and Denmark, which then leads to an analysis of how the appropriation of connective media becomes part of the politics of urban space.
Original languageEnglish
Publication date2017
Publication statusPublished - 2017
EventGeomedia: Spaces of the In-Between - Karlsstad University, Karlsstad, Sweden
Duration: 9. May 201712. May 2017


LocationKarlsstad University
Internet address

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