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Social Networks and Future Mobilities
Mobilities, Networks, Geographies
Jonas Larsen, John Urry and Kay Axhausen, Ashgate 2006
A substantially revised version of the report 'Social Networks and Future Mobilities' commissioned by the UK Department of Transport, produced between Oct 2004 and Oct 2005 and submitted early 2006.
This project is concerned with establishing a methodology to examine the impacts that the changing spatial patterns of social networks will have upon future travel. It is expected that over the next couple of decades there will be striking changes in the geographical extent and scale of people's social networks. This so far undocumented process will continue due to historically low prices for long-distance travel and communication and historically high levels of migration and economic interaction between countries (e.g. by investment, trade, service provision)
Most groups intermittently meet up to cement their network, to enjoy each other’s company and to carry out certain tasks; these meetings generate travel. Our proposal is for an exploratory project to determine a method for researching the spatial structure of networks and of their meetings, the nature of meetings and the ‘need’ for travel, which we summarise under the concept of meetingness. We will establish the theoretical frame for understanding such changing networks, carry out intensive interviews to determine an appropriate research method, analyse the provisional results, suggest measures, and develop proposals for a large-scale study.
The policy implication of these changing patterns lies not only in the amount of travel consumed, but also in the changed perception of this travel. Where in the past much of this travel could have been classified as leisure and by implication unnecessary, today it is central to the social cohesion of families, friendship groups, professions and firms.
We will explore various ways of researching:
We will conduct lengthy face-to-face interviews with a small sample employing
people’s scheduling tools and mementos that they may use to organise
meetings and to document and remember them.
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