People's everyday trips and practices and the social consequences of their (im)mobility are central to this research theme. This theme concentrates on people's mobility against a background of societal transformations such as population ageing, changing gender regimes, the rise and diffusion of new information technologies, and growing income inequalities within and between cities and states.

Mobility is defined broadly to encompass people's actual use of transport systems; their experience of such use; the meanings and power relations that shape, and are shaped by, transport; and the potential movements through space that people can undertake. The work under this theme is strongly informed by state-of-the-art theories in human geography, sociology and cultural studies. We often use mobility as a domain in which broader social and cultural processes, such as identity formation and the transition to low-carbon living, create specific effects and consequences. In this way we also seek to contribute to theory formation about transport and social and cultural processes more generally.

Research in this theme aims to:
  • Understand what the implications of long-term transformations in societies, such as population dynamics and changes in norms and values, are for people's travel patterns and their everyday activities;
  • Develop new understandings of how people use transport systems and of patterns of immobility resulting from social, cultural or economic disadvantage; and
  • Explore the ways in which mobility and immobility are central to the creation and reproduction of social and spatial inequalities between individuals and places.

The ways in which the relationships of transport with culture and society are geographically differentiated is an important concern within this research theme. Most of our work is situated in the UK and Europe but we are also active in the Global South and keen on expanding our research in non-western contexts.

Core strands of work include:

  • Mobility practices and habits: Research investigates how different social groups undertake and experience movement on an everyday basis and how mobility and immobility are shaped by, and shape, the built environment, attitudes, social capital, and people's economic and other resources. Theory development about the formation of travel behaviour and habits is an important part of this area.
  • Meaning, power and mobility: Work in this area seeks to understand the multiple meanings, values and norms that are associated with transport by individuals and larger collectives, such as public authorities, the media and the scientific community. This helps us to understand which forms of (im)mobility and governance are privileged and valorised by specific actors in particular places and times.
  • Everyday urban mobilities: Research focuses on the relationships between the multiple dimensions of people's everyday coordination activities and the complexity of moving into, and through, urban space. In particular, work has explored how objects and technologies are situated in complex assemblages that form part and parcel of mobile embodied experiences and the implications of this for urban and transport policy.

Current Research Projects

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Maximising Home Delivery

Funded by the EPSRC; 2016-2017; University of Oxford with University of Cambridge, Heriot Watt University, Waitrose, Sainsbury's and Tesco; Dr Tim Schwanen and Dr Christian Brand

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Young People's Travel Behaviour - Evidence Review

Funded by the Department for Transport; 2016; University of Oxford with UWE Bristol; Dr Tim Schwanen and several TSU researchers


DEsigning and Policy Implementation for encouraging Cycling and walking Trips (DEPICT)

Funded by the ESRC; 2015-2018; University of Oxford with Utrecht University and University of São Paulo; Dr Tim Schwanen and Dr Denver Nixon


Recent Research Projects

Everyday Mobilities of Visually Impaired Young People

Everyday Mobilities of Visually Impaired Young People

Funded by the John Fell Fund, University of Oxford; 2014-2015; Dr Jennie Middleton

TranSENDaNC: Transport and Social Exclusion: New Directions and National Comparisons

TranSENDaNC: Transport and Social Exclusion: New Directions and National Comparisons

Funded by EU Marie Curie International Researcher Exchange Scheme (IRSES); 2011-2014; University of Oxford, University of Ghent, Belgium and the Universidad de Concepción, Chile; Dr Karen Lucas and Dr Tim Schwanen

Transport and Accessibility in Low Income Communities in the Recife Metropolitan Region

Transport and Accessibility in Low Income Communities in the Recife Metropolitan Region

Funded by the Brazilian National Science Research Council; 2011-2014; University of Oxford and the University of Pernambuco, Brazil; Dr Karen Lucas

Modelling the Relationships between Transport Poverty and Social Disadvantage

Modelling the Relationships between Transport Poverty and Social Disadvantage

Funded by ESRC; 2011-2013; University of Oxford; Dr Karen Lucas


Impact of Constructing Non-motorised Networks and Evaluating Changes in Travel (iConnect)

Funded by the ESPRC; 2008-2013; University of Oxford with multiple research partners; Dr Christian Brand and Dr Tim Jones


Past Research Projects

  • Social Impacts and Social Equity Issues in Transport
    Funded by the ESRC; 2010-2011; University of Oxford with London School of Economics, University of Aberdeen, Newcastle University, and University of Warwick; Dr Karen Lucas and Lara Scott.
  • Visioning and Backcasting for Transport Futures in Chinese Cities
    Funded by the Centre for Studies in Property Valuation and Management Trust and Oxford Martin School; 2010-2011; University of Oxford with Shandong University of Finance, Shandong Academy of Sciences, and Jinan Municipal Government, China; Dr Jimin Zhao, Prof David Banister, and Dr Robin Hickman.
  • INTRA-SIM Oxfordshire and Swindon
    Funded by Oxfordshire County Council, Swindon Borough Council and the UK Department for Transport; 2009-2010; University of Oxford with Halcrow; Dr Robin Hickman and Prof David Banister.
  • Planning for Sustainable Travel
    Funded by Commission for Integrated Transport; 2008-2009; University of Oxford with Halcrow, Peter Headicar (Oxford Brookes) and Tim Pharoah; Dr Robin Hickman and Prof David Banister.