Pre-presentation preparation. How do modes of movement modify our perception of London? Uncertainty, Topophilia and the city

This morning we met at our usual allotted time slot, 10-11am. We went over the presentation, putting the finishing touches to our Power Point presentation and making sure our timings were correct. We practised a timed presentation and realised we were three minutes over the 20 minute limit so we made some of our statements more concise, making sure to keep only what is indispensable.

We have printed out a handout of our bibliography and finalised the zine we are presenting as a visual representation of the project.

Our presentation will take place at 5.40pm today.

Best of luck to everyone!

Concluding thoughts on the presentation

As our presentation and research is coming to an end , I thought it is interesting to share this video that I recently saw on Freedom of Speech. It makes one understand that political concepts are so much more complicated than normal scientific concepts. Furthermore, my experience working with the group helped me sharpen my skills and gauge with interdisciplinary learning.

Final Week-Presentation Week

Today we met to finalise our plan, script, and slides for our presentation. We will meet again before the presentation in order to solidify our execution of the presentation.

As we further finalise our presentation, we find that there are many arguments in favour of freedom of speech and in favour of political correctness; however, many of the ideas merge into one another and share similarities in their rhetoric. While these concepts are often seen as being at odds with one another, we are realising how often they go hand in hand. One cannot truly be without the other.

Delving deeper and deeper into the issue is a strong reminder of the fact that nothing is completely black and white; we live in a world of colour. There is a great deal of nuance and, in our conclusion, we highlight the reality of the coexistence of these concepts (political correctness and freedom of speech).

MINUTES 20.03.19

-changed the question
-shared idea of masculinity?
-how do your slides contribute to the overall argument of the presentation?
-bring it back o the initial question
-20 minute presentation 10 minute q&a

-are you able to justify it as an interdisciplinary problem?
-its good to mention interdisciplinarity
-reflect on the interdisciplinary aspect in the end (in the future recommendations bit)
-how did it being interdisciplinary help your research

-make sure we stick to the time
-how do we synthesise? Ultimately our findings are “……..”

-what do we mean by mainstream
-define mainstream in the introduction

-who will answer what question

-re:blog, reflection on where you are now compared to the beginning, reflection on how the topic has changed

Reflections upon our project

Our project began out of an interest in exploring assumptions surrounding gender stereotypes and the uncertainties that are produced by having fixed representations of maleness portrayed in mainstream media. We quickly settled on focusing our research on male mental health, as we were all concerned about the current male mental health crisis and believed that the fixed gender stereotypes that the media reinforces, may be negatively impacting male mental health and contributing to this mental health crisis. Whilst this broad framework still captures the contours set for our discussion, the expectations I held for what our research would demonstrate were not entirely confirmed. After analysing masculinity through media and literary representations and analysing psychological studies, gendered health care reports we have found that whilst masculinity more broadly has negative impacts upon mental health, it seems that only very specific aspects of masculinity are having a profound impact upon male mental health and limit men from expressing their emotions.

What, for me has been most interesting, is considering the manner in which aspects of masculinity can be harnessed to produce positive outcomes for male mental health. Analysing various gendered health care projects/ policies have led us to consider which steps should be taken to resolve this male mental health crisis. Looking forward this has led us to question whether these gendered approaches actually have positive impacts as long-term solutions, or whether they contribute to reinforcing the restricted conception of maleness which has had negative outcomes thus far. Further, it has raised questions of the plausibility, practicalities and the usefulness of gender-neutral approaches to mental health, questions that require more research and require further debate to consider both the short term and long term implications of policies, in order to deal with this crisis.


As we move into the final stages of our research, we identified specific elements that needed further clarifications and agreement, namely the definition of key terms, formulations of the overarching research question and argument, the implications of our research and how we will go about organizing the format of our presentation.  

Having broken our argument into steps and established a causal link between employment uncertainties within the neoliberal context and the rise of self-optimisation and self-care activities that are a product of the individualising and responsibilising effects of the former, we concluded that such activities are sought out by individuals in search of certainty within themselves, but also co-opted and proliferated by corporate structures. Key terms such as ‘responsibilisation’, ‘workfare’ and ‘labour uncertainty’ were picked out for clarification of definitions.

In order to encapsulate all relevant facets of our research, we agreed on the following question:

What are the origins and implications of the rise of wellbeing initiatives within the neoliberal labour systems?

Our response and argument:

Employment uncertainties inherent to a neoliberal labour system have contributed to the rise of individualised mindfulness and self-tracking activities, which companies have co-opted to maximise productivity within the same system.

From this, we noted how this hypothesis presents us with a ‘chicken-or-egg’ paradox, for it is unclear whether these concepts of self-help and mindfulness are popular amongst consumers because they are being pushed by employers as beneficial for productivity, or vice-versa. We reflected how there is evidence that suggests cause-and-effect relationships both ways. For example, the explosion of mindfulness in Silicon Valley is arguably based on how it is marketed as a way to increase emotional intelligence, suggesting the role of corporate structures in influencing the spread of the practice. At the same time, individual lifestyle choices, such as the active seeking out of meditation and yoga, and how these demands are taken on by app developers and runners of courses also point to a reversed relationship. This brings us towards the implications of our research, which we have begun to identify as the limits of wellbeing programmes as a way of dealing with human uncertainties within the neoliberal labour market, for they appear to serve the purposes of the very systems that generate the uncertainties in the first place.

In the week leading up to the presentation, we will continue our overall discussions of the research in a way that will ensure a cohesive presentation of information, highlight the circular nature of our findings, and finalise the structure and division of our presentation.

Niccoló, Caroline, Nat, Stefan

“Man Up”: A Case for Positive Masculinity

The American Psychological Association’s guidelines delineate that traditional masculinity has been proven to limit males’ psychological development and negatively impact their mental health. The guidelines identify that the traits most closely linked to mental health problems were ‘playboy behaviour’ or ‘sexual promiscuity’. The guidelines support encouraging positive aspects of ‘traditional masculinity’, such as courage and leadership, and discarding traits such as violence and sexism, while noting that the vast majority of men are not violent. Elements of hegemonic (traditional) masculinity are negatively associated with helpseeking: these are primarily those that relate to the ability to be emotionally expressive or to show vulnerability and they have been suggested as having a particularly negative impact on formal mental health help-seeking. These elements are also related to greater mental health stigma and a desire to mask mental health concerns to peers for fear of losing social status, especially within groups of younger men and in communities of men where masculinity is observed  at close quarters. Traits of so-called ‘traditional masculinity’, like suppressing emotions and masking distress, often start early in life and have been linked to less willingness by boys and men to seek help, more risk-taking and aggression — possibly harming themselves and those with whom they interact. However, at present, a lot of mental health promoters have been attempting to manipulate the use of masculinity in a way by which men are encouraged to seek help.  Aspects of hegemonic masculinity such as autonomy and control have been used to deal with emotional as well as psychological health concerns and has been harnessed well by practitioners to make help-seeking part of assertive and positive decision making. ‘Fatherly’ lists the 11 aspects of masculinity, of the 79 generally identified,  that can be employed in order to promote male mental health care and shirk the phenomenon of ‘toxic masculinity’; some of these are –  male self-reliance, the worker-provider tradition of men, men’s respect for women, male courage, daring, risk-taking, the group orientation of men and boys, male forms of service, men’s use of humor, and male heroism. Furthermore, APAs study finds that using male-oriented, action-focused linguistics are more effective in promoting mental health among men in comparison to the employment of traditional communicative tactics.

Since our topic is essentially investigating the impact of traditional, toxic masculinity on the male mental health, I think it might be interesting to look at instances where masculinity has been positively drawn on to promote mental wellbeing within men.

A part of each focus group’s short transcription

After we decided who will do what in our presentation, I was in charge of transcribing the answers given by the 9 participants to the section ‘space, place and topophilia’ of the questionary. This is a short version of my notes.

Focus group 1: 


=> people from the first focus group lived in London for 2 to 4 years, not born and raised in London

=> 2 people (bus and tube) out of 6 did not feel a positive emotional attachment to London (not sure)

=> cyclist felt like his mode of transport played a role in his emotional attachment to London because he loves cycling throughout London and loves the feeling of flowing and riding through traffic in London and loves knowing where he goes when cycling in London so this pleasures that he feels makes him having a positive emotional attachment to London because it is where he does something that he likes

=> bus: more emotional attachment to the people in London than to London => no ling with geography for him, still link with emotional attachment is negative because for him the public transports are frustrating, bus creates a negative feeling towards London because it is a city where you have to take public transport and that it is not something that he likes, rather live in a city where you do not have to use public transport

=> one tube said that sometimes if she is in a carriage listening to her music (emotional) and that she realizes that she is in London and that it is her city that she is happy to be in it, her  mode of movement plays a role because it is where she realizes that she is in London and happy about it => maybe it does not impact the emotional attachment or creates it but maybe it makes the person realize

=> tube: idea that it is such a big international city where many people are here for business that it does not really belong to anyone

=> tube and bus: combination => you know some parts so more connexion, some others are just completely ‘alien’ => you go there one time for a reason and never go back

=> place when you have an emotional attachment => cycling brings a different perspective because you discover, better knowledge it is not just popping out at a station, you experience the journey so more connexion with it

=> cycle:  idea of the borders of London popped up, interesting thing because even London as a space is quite contested, living in London does not mean anything in a way because of how big it is

=> for one cyclist => think of London as his home but at the same time he does not think of every part of London as his home, does not include West London for example

Focus group 2: 


=> 1 person living in London for 2 1/2, 1 for 3 years and one for 21years

=> one bus person does not have an emotional attachment to London, very ready to leave, never saw it as a home even if it is an enjoyable city full of opportunities, it is very overwhelming => negative emotional attachment because it is hard to live there, hard not to be isolated

=> one tube => very ready to go home => negative emotional attachment, affected by the fact there is no sun

=> one cyclist => feels a positive emotional attachment to London when he bikes around the city at night especially => make him feel better when he felt down

=> one bus and tube => feel trapped in bus or tube so creates a negative perception and negative emotional attachment BUT at the same time when need to feel better goes to Trafalgar Square or museum that she feels good in (find the place peaceful) so they are spaces (which become places) that she feels good in so thatch feels a positive emotional attachment to BUT she also avoids a mode of transport when she wants to feel good so transports in London creates an emotional attachment that is negative

=> bus => finds that London is a combination of spaces and places, where she has memories of her shows, where she shared things with her friends

=> cycling => places in areas that he knows => feeling of place is attached to knowledge and experience

=> tube => place are areas where she goes a lot, where she has a lot of good memories => feeling of place linked with frequency and experience, feelings

=> bus => says that a route feels like a place, not the bus that is a place BUT the bus routes because she has memories and emotional attachment to this route that she takes or took for months

Week 8 Updates

We have met up today as a group and discussed our parts of the presentation. Leeyan and Ishani will be presenting the argument on the side of freedom of expression, while Yuxin and I will be presenting our arguments on the side of political correctness. We have created an outline that encompasses our entire presentation, including topics, timing, and source materials.

I noticed last week that all of the members of our group are of Asian descent and, because of that, we can all incorporate our experiences and ideologies that stem from each of our countries (China, Saudi Arabia, India, and Pakistan). It will be interesting to explore the  differences between Western and Eastern definitions/stances on freedom of expression and political correctness. The values of each country greatly affect how they treat these issues and through what lens they are perceived. Exploring this also fits perfectly into our theme of ‘uncertainty’ as it is apparent that context, history, and location play an enormous role in determining how pc culture and expression are valued and implemented by these diverse societies.