Vol 10, N° 20 (2019): Sociological Beruf : A Ten-Year Interpretive Journey

Spatial Mobility in Social Theory

Published 2020-01-16


  • Mobility,
  • space,
  • social theory,
  • migration

How to Cite

Recchi, E., & Flipo, A. (2020). Spatial Mobility in Social Theory. SocietàMutamentoPolitica, 10(20), 125–137. https://doi.org/10.13128/smp-11051


While the concept of ‘mobility’ lends itself to a variety of metaphorical meanings, ‘spatial mobility’ is in fact poorly theorized in the history of sociology. Nonetheless, it plays an underrated role in the theories of all the classics of the discipline: Marx and Engels, Weber, Durkheim, Simmel, and the Chicago School. The paper explores the role of ‘spatial mobility’ in these classics and its re-emerging importance in more recent social theory. The influence of geography is highlighted, as John Urry’s ‘mobility turn’ draws on the earlier ‘spatial turn’ of human geographers. After reviewing the controversy about the use of mobility as a conceptual framework for the analysis of migration, the paper calls for stronger attention to the spatial dimension of human life in sociological theory altogether, rather than confining ‘mobility’ to a specific research field and, ultimately, treating it as yet another dependent variable to be accounted for.


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