Mobilities and Complexities  book cover
1st Edition

Mobilities and Complexities

ISBN 9781138601437
Published October 24, 2018 by Routledge
270 Pages 12 B/W Illustrations

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Book Description

The new ‘mobilities turn’ has become a powerful perspective in social theory. John Urry’s oeuvre has been very influential in the emergence of this new field and has had lasting impacts on many scholars. This collection presents originally commissioned essays from leading scholars in the field who reflect on how Urry’s writing influenced the course of their research and theorizing.

This volume gathers contributions in relation to John Urry’s path-breaking work. The new ‘mobilities turn’ made a strong imprint in European social theory and is beginning to make an impact in the Americas and Asia as well. It challenges mainstream theoretical and empirical approaches that were grounded in a sedentary and bounded view of states. It propels innovative thinking about social and media ecologies, complex systems and social change. It bridges many disciplines and methodologies, leading to new approaches to existing problems while also resonating with questions about both history and the future. Mobilities research marks the rise of academic and intellectual cooperation and collaboration ‘beyond societies’, as nations around the world face the ecological limits of contemporary mobility and energy systems.

The contributors represent several national contexts, including England, Germany, Denmark, Finland, Taiwan, Brazil, Canada, Australia and the USA. This book collects personal essays and gives insight into a vivid network of scientists who have connections of various degrees to the late John Urry as an academic figure, an author and a person.

Table of Contents

Foreword I

Foreword II

Part I

Chapter 1: Introduction

Mimi Sheller, Sven Kesselring and Ole B. Jensen

Chapter 2: Encountering John Urry: A fragment of an autobiography in theory

Tim Cresswell

Chapter 3: Will there be an Urryism? The dialectic of a plural thinker in singular times

Thomas Birtchnell

Chapter 4: Migration, the sociology of mobility and critical theory

Bulent Diken

Chapter 5: Post-disciplinary encounters between Lancaster and the rest of the world

Andrew Sayer

Chapter 6: Following

Mimi Sheller

Part II

Chapter 7: Proximity from a distance: Virtual and imaginative mobility through the intimacies of life on screen

David Bissell

Chapter 8: Postcards from a city

Monica Degen

Chapter 9: The sensory pleasures of the disoriented tourist

Tim Edensor

Chapter 10: Some personal reflections on the social production of multiple natures

Phil Macnaghten

Chapter 11: On a pilgrimage: A journey with John Urry

Phil Vannini

Chapter 12: Remembering my special academic journey with John Urry

Chia-Ling Lai

Part III

Chapter 13: Going places

Jørgen Ole Bærenholdt

Chapter 14: John Urry’s adventures in Brazil

Bianca Freire Medeiros

Chapter 15: After the end of tourism

Jennie Germann Molz

Chapter 16: Tourism, mobilities, geopolitics, events

Kevin Hannam

Chapter 17: Running away from, or with, the tourist gaze

Jonas Larsen

Chapter 18: It’s about time…

Juliet Jain

Chapter 19: Ice-fishing with John Urry – and other Finnish episodes of ontological importance

Soile Veijola

Part IV

Chapter 20: Mobilities without weight

Peter Adey

Chapter 21: Time: the particular and the universal

Malene Freudendal-Pedersen

Chapter 22: A long conversation: On meetings, travels, and conversations with John Urry

Ole B. Jensen

Chapter 23: Europe beyond mobilities

Vincent Kaufmann

Chapter 24: Mobility – why actually?

Sven Kesselring

Chapter 25: How one book and one meeting shaped my aeromobilities research

Claus Lassen

Chapter 26: Working materials: mobile objects, ideas and people

Elizabeth Shove

Part V

Chapter 27: Social futures

Monika Büscher

Chapter 28: The future’s never simple when its complex: Social forecasting with John Urry

Kingsley Dennis

Chapter 29: From mobilities to mobile Lives and beyond: The world according to John Urry

Anthony Elliott

Chapter 30: Liveable data: a low-carbon science fiction with John Urry

Laura Watts

Chapter 31: Mobility and simplicity

Peter Merriman

Chapter 31: A planetary turn for the social sciences?

Bronislaw Szerszynski


Lynne Pearce



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Ole B. Jensen is Professor of Urban Theory. He has a cross-disciplinary background in political science, sociology and planning. He studies how sociality is reconfigured by complex mobilities in the designed environs and infrastructural landscapes of the contemporary city.

Sven Kesselring is a sociologist and Research Professor in Sustainable Mobilities at Nuertingen-Geislingen University, Germany. His research focuses on mobilities theory, socio-technological change and labour mobilities. His recent publications are Exploring Networked Urban Mobilities (2018, with Malene Freudendal-Pedersen); New Mobilities Regimes (2013, with Susanne Witzgall and Gerlinde Vogl) and Aeromobilities (2009; with John Urry and Saolo Cwerner).

Mimi Sheller is Professor of Sociology and Founding Director of the Center for Mobilities Research and Policy at Drexel University, Philadelphia. She is founding co-editor of the journal Mobilities and past president of the International Association for the History of Transport, Traffic and Mobility. She is the author or co-editor of ten books, the most recent being Mobility Justice: The Politics of Movement in an Age of Extremes (2018).


‘This superb collection is a fitting tribute to the pivotal influence of British sociologist John Urry (1946–2016) in rethinking the importance of mobility in contemporary societies. Within it a global array of key thinkers on the sociology, geography and politics of mobility reflect poignantly on how Urry's remarkable mind and generous spirit touched their work both personally and intellectually. Highly recommended!’

Stephen Graham, Professor of Cities and Society, Newcastle University, and author of Vertical: The City From Satellites to Bunkers