Making Daily Mobility: Qualitative Analysis of everyday mobility in children families in Copanhagen

Ole B. Jensen, Simon Wind

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In 2012 the average daily transportation distance for every Dane were 40 km (TU Data). Realising how much of life is spend thinking about, planning and performing mobility practices it becomes evident that it is much more than an instrumental physical phenomenon – it has great repercussions on life, social networks, understanding of places and ultimately ourselves and others. To successfully accomplish everyday life, households have to cope with large number of different activities and mobility in relation to their children, work, social life, obligations, expectations, needs and wishes. Drawing on mobilities theory (Urry 2007; Larsen et al. 2006) and practice theory (Schatzki 2001; Reckwitz 2002; Shove et al. 2012) this paper seeks to unfold a theoretical framework for understanding of the household’s mobility coping strategies and how these strategies are actualised and materialised into mobility practice configurations. The paper draws on empirical material collected from the project ‘Analysis of activity-based travel chains and sustainable mobility’ (ACTUM WP2), consisting of qualitative semi-structured interviews with 45 respondents in 11 children families spread across the Greater Copenhagen in Denmark as well as seven days of GPS trackings of each family member.

The paper unpacks how the household member’s daily practices are more than individual accomplishments carried out in isolation, but coordinated and performed in relation to other members. Drawing on practice theory, the daily practices can be conceptualized as complex configurations of bodily doings and saying, knowledge, embodied know-how, affective and normative orientations, and of things and places. It is investigated how the family members are constantly involved stabilising these practice assemblages as a way of successfully accomplishing daily life. The study also shows that practices need constant maintenance as they are continuously de-stabilised by changing conditions and situations. This careful and competent work involved in the maintenance and adjustment of daily practices is done in relation to the household member’s normative and affective orientation towards daily mobility, spanning from being a ‘waste of time’ to being a ‘meaningful’ activity. For instance, besides fulfilling a practical purpose, mobility practices are often ‘mobile-with’ constellations of synchronised, however temporal, movement and thus household mobility also become a meaningful way of showing affection, consideration and care between family members.

By exploring how the household’s daily mobility practices are organized and carried out, especially in relation to the affective and emotional dimensions, new knowledge is produced, which can elucidate aspects of urban everyday mobility that can be utilized in policy and planning perspectives. This knowledge can aid construction of generalized qualitative scenarios that together with quantitative transport models can serve as wider knowledge foundation in decision making process.
Original languageEnglish
Publication date11 Jun 2013
Number of pages2
Publication statusPublished - 11 Jun 2013
EventStrategic Research In Transport and Infrastructure - Danmarks Tekniske Universitet, DTU, København, Denmark
Duration: 11 Jun 201312 Jun 2013


ConferenceStrategic Research In Transport and Infrastructure
LocationDanmarks Tekniske Universitet, DTU

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