Authored by: George Revill

The Routledge Handbook of Mobilities

Print publication date:  December  2013
Online publication date:  January  2014

Print ISBN: 9780415667715
eBook ISBN: 9781315857572
Adobe ISBN: 9781317934134


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Mobility studies are often defined in terms of their primary focus on the practices and experiences of being a mobile subject. In this sense John Urry (2000, 2007) has eloquently argued for mobilities as a paradigmatic way to address social relations and subjectivities within present day societies made in and through mechanised mobility and telecommunications systems. Yet, theorising the historical specificity of mobile experience remains problematic for a mobility studies shaped substantially by recent experiences of mechanised mobility, networked and broadcast telecommunications. Much innovative work in mobilities studies has, for example, been in the field of mobile methodologies which challenge conventional approaches to meaningful experience as consciously symbolically structured or open to textual forms of analysis. Drawing on qualitative, participatory and multi-media data collection, such techniques provide novel means of accessing the flux and flow of mobile experience (Spinney 2006; Hein et al. 2008; Fincham et al. 2010; Revill 2010). Yet such methods cannot simply be adapted to historical situations where we do not have direct access to the immediate responses of past actors; very frequently all that remains available to mobility historians are the apparently mute buildings, structures and machines of transport archaeology and second-hand accounts in print and visual media. Neither do such methods enable us to readily locate specific mobilities historically and geographically within broader systems of socially situated meaningful experience. However, since the criticisms of travelling theory by Cresswell and others in the late 1990s many have recognised the importance oflocating the experience of mobility geographically and historically if mobilities are to be recognised as producers of difference, differential experiences and uneven socio-material relationalities (Wolf 1992; Cresswell 2001a, 2001b, 2006, 2010, 2011; Cresswell and Verstrate 2002; also Adey 2006). Such processes oflocation necessarily implicate infrastructures, equipment and technologies equally along with practices, knowledges and social relations in the shaping of mobile experience.

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