Mobile Lives: 1st Edition (Paperback) book cover

Mobile Lives

1st Edition

By Anthony Elliott, John Urry


194 pages | 14 B/W Illus.

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pub: 2010-05-14
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How should we understand the personal and social impacts of complex mobility systems? Can lifestyles based around intensive travel, transport and tourism be maintained in the 21st century? What possibility post-carbon lifestyles?

In this provocative study of "life on the move", Anthony Elliott and John Urry explore how complex mobility systems are transforming everyday, ordinary lives. The authors develop their arguments through an analysis of various sectors of mobile lives: networks, new digital technologies, consumerism, the lifestyles of ‘globals’, and intimate relationships at-a-distance. Elliott and Urry introduce a range of new concepts – miniaturized mobilities, affect storage, network capital, meetingness, neighbourhood lives, portable personhood, ambient place, globals – to capture the specific ways in which mobility systems intersect with mobile lives.

This book represents a novel approach in "post-carbon" social theory. It will be essential reading for advanced undergraduate students, postgraduates and teachers in sociology, social theory, politics, geography, international relations, cultural studies, and economics and business studies.


'This book is a major study by any reckoning. In analysing spatial mobility and the impact of electronic communication on a global scale the authors develop a penetrating account of the origins of the crisis of sustainability in world society. It is like reading J.G. Ballard, but with fact replacing fiction' —Professor Lord Anthony Giddens, London School of Economics, UK

'This world of ours here and now, the world of ‘mobile lives’, as Elliott and Urry aptly and pertinently call it, differs sharply from the one which those older among us wistfully or sorrowfully, but always vividly, remember from the not-that-distant past, while the young among us find difficult to comprehend, let alone imagine. Both generations find it equally difficult, even if for opposite reasons, to make sense of the new reality that engulfed their present life unaccompanied with a language fit to report their experience of being-in-it and to make sense of it in a way making suitable for mutual communication. Elliott and Urry make a gigantic step towards composition and codification of badly missing thus far grammar and vocabulary of such language; we all owe them deep gratitude for the enormous volume of research and thought necessary for that task, as daunting as it is urgent, to be performed' —Zygmunt Bauman, Professor Emeritus at the Universities of Leeds, UK, and Warsaw, Poland

'John Urry and Anthony Elliott are, respectively, first among leaders of sociology in the UK and Australia. Together, in Mobile Lives, they demonstrate just how strongly other-than-US Anglophone sociology has come to dominate the world of forward looking social thought' —Charles Lemert, the John E. Andrus Professor of Sociology, Wesleyan University, USA

'The book succeeds brilliantly in capturing the fluidity and lure of our deeply problematic contemporary mobilities. The costs and benefits of our mobile lives are revealed by the authors with an unusually sharp eye' —Professor Helga Nowotny, ETH Zurich, Switzerland

'Mobile Lives superbly captures the paradox of modern life. Just as we sit and surf the net, we travel to connect with others. This well-written, authoritative book shows how we're out of villages and into networks' —Barry Wellman, S.D. Clark Professor of Sociology, University of Toronto, Canada

'Overall, a deeply informed, challenging exploration of global networks, mobility, and new forms of individuation.' —Highly Recommended in CHOICE review by K. Tölölyan, Wesleyan University

'…written in an erudite but highly accessible style, providing rich description of twenty-first century mobile lives…this volume demonstrates the success of the authors' assertion that the mobilities paradigm can be extended to analyse the formation of identity and the experience of everyday life.'

-Jo Whitehouse-Hart in Free Associations, No 62, Sept 2011

Table of Contents

Preface 1. Mobile Lives: A Step Too Far? 2. New Technologies, New Mobilities 3. Networks and Inequalitites 4. The Globals and Their Mobilities 5. Mobile Relationships: Intimacy At-A-Distance 6. Consuming to Excess 7. Contested Futures

About the Authors

Anthony Elliott is Chair of Sociology at Flinders University, Australia, and Visiting Research Professor at the Open University, UK. His recent books include Contemporary Social Theory: An Introduction (2009), The New Individualism 2nd Edition (with Charles Lemert, 2009), The Routledge Companion to Social Theory (editor, 2010) and Globalization: A Reader (co-editor, 2010) – all published by Routledge.

John Urryis Distinguished Professor of Sociology at Lancaster University, UK, where he is Director of the Centre for Mobilities Research. His recent books include Mobile Technologies of the City (co-editor, Routledge, 2006), Mobilities (Polity, 2007), Aeromobilities (co-editor, 2009), After the Car (co-author, Polity, 2009) and Mobile Methods (co-editor, 2010).

About the Series

International Library of Sociology

The International Library of Sociology (ILS) is the most important series of books on sociology ever published. Founded in the 1940s by Karl Mannheim, the series became the forum for pioneering research and theory, marked by comparative approaches and the identification of new directions in sociology, publishing major figures in Anglo-American and European sociology, from Durkheim and Weber to Parsons and Gouldner, and from Ossowski and Klein to Jasanoff and Walby.

Its new editors, John Holmwood (University of Nottingham, UK) and Vineeta Sinha (National University of Singapore), plan to develop the series as a truly global project, reflecting new directions and contributions outside its traditional centres, and connecting with the original aim of the series to produce sociological knowledge that addresses pressing global social problems and supports democratic debate.

Learn more…

Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
BUSINESS & ECONOMICS / International / General
SOCIAL SCIENCE / Human Geography
SOCIAL SCIENCE / Sociology / General
SOCIAL SCIENCE / Gender Studies
SOCIAL SCIENCE / Media Studies


Why not download our Routledge FreeBook Identity Transformations? This resource contains a chapter from Mobile Lives, along with a selection of excerpts from Anthony Elliott's other work.

Click here for more information, and to access this FreeBook.