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Mobility and Social Capital

On the potential exposure to social and spatial diversity

Travelling together alone and alone together: mobility and potential exposure to diversity

Quantity and quality of social relations correlate with our happiness and physical health. Our (feeling of) connectedness also matters for the efficacy and functioning of communities and societies as a whole. Different mobility practices offer different conditions for being exposed to other people and the environment. Such exposure influences a sense of being connected to places, communities and societies. In transport planning practice and research, these relations are slowly getting attention. In this paper, we develop an analytical framework that offers a comprehensive understanding on if and how one’s experiences of being on the move influence the ability of an individual to develop a sense of connectedness. We develop hypotheses about these possible relations, that link literatures from mobilities research and sociology to advance transport planning research and practice. First, we discuss how the experiences of being mobile using different transport modes set different stages for the potential exposure to a diversity of socio-spatial environments. Second, we translate this into an analytical framework for understanding the relationships between connectedness and using different mobility modes. In the final part of the paper, we illustrate this by operationalising a number of potential indicators of connectedness (as dependent variables).

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