London School of Economics. Tesis doctoral para obtener grado de Doctor en Planificación Urbana

Paola Jirón Martínez

The ‘mobility turn’ in social sciences (Cresswell 2006; Hannam, Sheller et al. 2006; Sheller and Urry 2006) is based on the inevitable impacts all types of mobility currently have on contemporary living and “examines how social relations necessitate the intermittent and intersecting movement of people, objects, information and images across distance” (Urry 2007: 54 ). Mobility studies include research on migration, tourism, residential mobility and urban daily mobility – the latter is the central interest of this thesis. Urban daily mobility refers to all the ways people relate experientially to change of place on a daily basis, which means that it encompasses more than the sum of journeys made or the time it takes to make them. This understanding of mobility as a social practice requires methodological access to the social meaning invested in movement, whether that movement is physical, imaginative, virtual, or a combination of these.
How do practices of urban daily mobility shape the way urban living is experienced in contemporary cities? This thesis addresses mobility as a social practice and uses an ethnographic approach to explore the way mobility is experienced daily by selected individuals in Santiago de Chile. It argues that an urban daily mobility approach captures an ontological shift in the way the urban spaces are experienced. This shift has implications for the way urban relations and urban structures are observed; that is, from fixed physical entities to moving and dynamic relations.
Moreover, this shift has significant implications in various areas of urban analysis, each of which is examined by this thesis. First, it requires adopting methodologies that can reveal daily mobility experiences and find adequate ways of representing these experiences. Second, it incorporates mobility into the notion of place, by introducing the concepts of mobile places and transient places it discusses the possibility of mobile place making. Third, it questions the static way of analysing urban inequality and expands the notion of urban social exclusion to incorporate differentiated mobility as another one of its causes, consequences and manifestations. Fourth, it provides a way of looking at spatial relations in the city by understanding the implications of urban daily mobility in terms of place confinement and enlargement. Finally, it affects the way urban policy interventions are understood, analysed here in terms of the implementation of the Transantiago transport system. Mobility in these terms becomes not only a practice through which daily living can be observed, it may also be a locus for encounter, conflict, negotiation and transformation, thus requiring further research as a space of socialisation.