Moving Around in Town. Practices, Pathways, and Contexts of Intra-Urban Mobility from 1600 to the Present Day

Organized under the research program Settling in Motion1 and the Italian-French Associated Laboratory MediterraPolis, this conference focuses on urban mobility, from the start of the modern era to the present.

The city has always represented a strong attraction point for migration and, in general, constituted a privileged location for the deployment of human mobility in all its forms.

Mobility types that involve the city as a point of arrival or departure are many and may differ in terms of the underlying reasons (work, study, family, consumption, healthcare, etc.), the duration or frequency (definitive, temporary, occasional, daily, etc.), and in terms of the amplitude of the displacement, which can cross the state boundaries or be limited to a few hundred meters.

This call looks at intra-urban mobility. That is, all shapes of displacement that have their origin and destination within an urban area, regardless of the reason and the frequency with which they take place. The possible topics of interest include residential mobility studies, changes in housing, and those on daily, commuter and non-commuter travellers.

In the social sciences, the theme of residential mobility has been the object of several studies, which bind it firmly to the life cycle. For their part, the studies on modern cities, in particular those based on the longitudinal reconstruction of trajectories and on event history analysis, have highlighted the great internal mobility within cities even in the 18th and 19th centuries. The sources used for such studies are numerous and varied. On the one hand, civil status records, parish registers, and nominal lists have been analysed on a historical basis; on the other, master records and ad hoc surveys have nourished the most recent analyses.

Starting from these premises, the purpose of the call is to explore mobility in the city in relation to social dynamics, as a “detective” element of the functioning of urban societies2 . To do this, we intend to put in place a centred approach to individuals and their mobility practices on the one hand (life cycle and biography), and the spatial and historical context on the other, considering, for example, the impact of conjunctural shocks such as those caused by an economic crisis and by other unexpected events of an environmental or a socio-political nature. The dialogue between different disciplines will allow to detect continuities and breaks beyond the classic pre- and post-Industrial Revolution periodization.

Submissions can come from different disciplines: from history to demography, from sociology to geography. Study cases and proposals focused on the individual and microanalytic perspective will be of particular interest, which can be included in the following areas of reflection:

Biography, life cycle and mobility

Residential mobility shows a variable intensity throughout individuals’ lives. In particular, numerous studies have highlighted the existence of a clear interrelationship between the change in the place of residence and the occurrence of a series of lifecycle events: from the formation / dissolution of the family, to the changes occurring during the career, education, and work.

What is the role played by intra-urban mobility in individual life paths? And what are the links with ascending or descending social mobility paths?

Mobility, housing, and urban transformations

Residential mobility is conditioned both by the characteristics of one’s dwellings, and by the housing market conditions. Those who live in a large, owned property have a lesser likelihood of moving than those who occupy a small rented apartment. At the same time, the availability of housing is influenced by the price level and the turnover rates, which in turn are positively correlated with a high share of young people and immigrants among residents. In addition, intra-urban mobility is also linked to the presence of some specific reception facilities, from the inns and taverns of the olden days, to the meublés of today.

At the heart of this axis will be the relationship between residential mobility on the one hand and housing demand / supply and characteristics of the habitats on the other. Reflections will be geared to determining the role of mobility in urban transformation, considered in its material aspect (real estate).

Daily routes. Pendularism and non-residential mobility

This axis collects contributions on daily commuter and circular mobility for work or study purposes, not overlooking however other forms of non-systematic mobility that do not involve a change of residence and may be linked to activities such as shopping, healthcare, fun, meals, etc. From the historical point of view, daily mobility has rarely attracted the attention of scholars so far. Is proximity really, as we tend to believe, the only dimension of intra-urban mobility? Which inhabitants cover the most extensive distances? For what reasons?

Directions of residential mobility

Inside the city, residents develop multiple residential trajectories that sometimes contribute to defining and addressing the socio-economic transformation of different urban areas. Processes such as gentrification or urban sprawl are some of the trends that can affect residential mobility over time, bringing bout alternations that can see the prevalence of opposing territorial routes, centrifugal rather than centripetal, which tend to spread or concentrate, which will produce different, more or less dense, rarefied or unequal cities. Consideration of the distinctive features of urban trajectories, triggering causes, and the impacts generated will be the subject of this axis.

Submission guidelines

Proposals of no more than 300 words and a CV should be sent to eleonora.canepari@univ- and

Deadline: 11 February 2018.

Acceptance of the proposal will be notified by 25 February 2018.

Scientific Committee

  • Renata Ago (DSCR, Università di Roma La Sapienza)
  • Eleonora Canepari (TELEMMe UMR 7303, CNRS-AMU)
  • Massimiliano Crisci (IRPPS-CNR)
  • Giuseppe Gesano (IRPPS-CNR)
  • Angela Groppi (DSCR, Università di Roma La Sapienza)
  • Michele Nani (ISSM-CNR)
  1. Chaire d’excellence A*Midex, E. Canepari []
  2. Pinol 1999, p. 7-15 []

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