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Mobilities and the school journey : mothers, children and the negotiation of risk landscapes

Research to date suggests that mothers determine their children's level of independent mobility and that risk, particularly risks relating to 'stranger danger' and traffic accidents, are decisive in shaping mobility decisions. This research set out to demonstrate that the relationship between mothers, children, risk and mobility is more complex and contested, and requires an in-depth analysis using a theoretical framework based on literature relating to sociocultural theories of risk, feminist approaches to motherhood, social studies of childhood and theories of mobilities emerging from the social sciences. This study disentangles the myriad factors that contribute to mobility decision-making through the application of the concept of mobility history, which utilises and critiques theories of mobility and risk through a gender and generational perspective. The research applies recently developed visual methods of social research to capture and analyse both affective and experiential responses to everyday risk; in particular it facilitates the analysis of children's demonstration of agency in this relatively unregulated temporal and spatial context. The research adopted a qualitative, mixed method approach and was based in Brighton in southeast England. Twenty five young people filmed their journey to or from school, describing their feelings and responses to space as they travelled. This was followed by film elicitation interviews, providing further data to analyse the beliefs and meanings attached to risk and mobility. In addition, in-depth interviews with the eighteen mothers provided an insight into the role of personal biography in mobility decision-making; the importance of social networking and local cultures of risk; the impacts of lifestage on risk landscapes; and the inextricable links between risk and cultures of mothering and blame. The research found that both mothers and children demonstrate complex patterns of decision-making in terms of their journey to school mobilitites and the concept of mobility history enables the exploration of not only the relevant influential factors in mobility decision-making, but also a way of interrelating these factors and thereby explaining their relative impacts in different temporal and spatial contexts. Mobility histories are contingent on a number of socio-cultural factors including gender and generation, which are the focus of this study. In addition, the thesis has shown that the application of video and film elicitation interviews is a valuable research tool in researching with children as they can: be empowering; participative; facilitate both reflexivity and contextualisation; allow the analysis of non verbal responses; and facilitate the triangulation of data.
Date January 2007
CreatorsMurray, Lesley
PublisherUniversity of Brighton
Source SetsEthos UK
Detected LanguageEnglish
TypeElectronic Thesis or Dissertation

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