Topic: Inequalities over the lifecourse in the brave new world of mobility
Keywords: mobility; inequality; lifecourse; urbanisation/ counterurbanisation
Technological advances in transportation and communication have ushered in a new era of mobility theorised by scholars such as Bauman, Castells and Urry. These technological advances and increases in physical and techological mobility have in turn eroded classical distinctions between urban and rural. Rural dwellers in small communities may for instance interact with an enormous range of strangers on a daily basis, enjoy specialized services and visit global cities on a whim while urban dwellers in large cities may easily live their social life in small, close knit virtual communities or spend a considerable amount of time in various rural settings around the world. Place of residence has furthermore become much less dependent upon employment requirements as more people can at least partially work at home, in public spaces or literally on the move. The choice of residence may be instrumental or expressive but tends to be tentative and life-course based. Moreover, increased mobility in some of life’s domains (e.g. employment) permits residential immobility as a deliberate choice. However, we argue that this brave new world of fluid mobility is not experienced equally: it varies by lifecourse stage, social stratification, gender, and ethnicity. This is illustrated using the shifting concepts of urbanisation and counterbanisation to conclude that the new era of mobility reflects and reinforces inequalities across the life course and across urban and rural space.