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ISBN: 978-0-7456-3418-0
336 pages
December 2007, Polity
Mobilities (0745634184) cover image


Issues of movement – of people, things, information and ideas – are central to people's lives and to most organisations. From oil wars to SMS texting, from airport expansion controversies to the decline of walking, from slave-trading to global terrorism, from global warming to teleworking, issues of ‘mobility’ are centre-stage upon many academic and policy agendas. These topics and issues are increasingly analysed as part of a concern with ‘mobility’ which this wide-ranging book both describes and seeks to develop.

John Urry has been at the centre of these debates and he draws upon an extensive array of new research and material to develop what he calls the ‘new mobilities paradigm’ for the social sciences. He shows how this paradigm makes comprehensible social phenomena which were previously opaque. He examines how ‘mobilities’ each presuppose a ‘system’ that permits predictable and relatively risk-free repetition. The book outlines various such systems and then analyses their intersecting implications for social inequality, for social networks and meetings, for the nature of places and for alternative mobility futures.

Mobilities is thus both an analysis of different mobilities historically and in the present and an argument that the social world will be analysed quite differently once peoples’ lives, organisations, states and global institutions are seen to be dealing with extensive and hugely contested mobility processes. This book rewrites social science through a mobilities paradigm.

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Table of Contents


Part 1 Mobile worlds.

1. Mobilizing social life.

2. ‘Mobile’ theories and methods.

3. The mobilities paradigm.

Part 2 Moving and communicating.

4. Pavements and Paths.

5. ‘Public’ trains.

6. Inhabiting cars and roads.

7. Flying around.

8. Connecting and imagining.

Part 3 Societies and systems on the move.

9. Gates to heaven and hell.

10. Networks.

11. Meetings.

12. Places.

13. Systems and dark futures.



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Author Information

John Urry (1946-2016) was Distinguished Professor of Sociology at Lancaster University

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The Wiley Advantage

  • Ground-breaking new book by John Urry outlining what he calls the ‘new mobilities paradigm’ for the social sciences
  • An analysis of different mobilities, or ways of movement, both historically and in the present
  • Argues that the social world will be analysed differently once peoples’ lives, organisations, states and global institutions are seen to be dealing with extensive and hugely contested mobility processes
  • Clearly written using many modern examples and references to literary works
  • Powerful and persuasive, this book will appeal to students and scholars across the social sciences and humanities

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"John Urry unfolds a new paradigm of social sciences, based on mobilities and not on territorially fixed societies. This wonderful book creates a systematic and creative conceptual space in which to renew sociology for the twenty-first century."

-- Ulrich Beck, University of Munich

"John Urry has made the study of mobility into the key to the study of modern life. Using this key, in this book he not only casts fresh light on various aspects of modernity but also massively extends the reach of sociological and cultural analysis as he does so. A seminal contribution."

-- Nigel Thrift, University of Warwick

"This is both an important book and a great book. It's an important book because individualized mobility is becoming the most important social trend of the developed world. It is a great book because it deals smartly, comprehensively, and systematically with how this mobility takes place."

-- Barry Wellman, University of Toronto

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