Under Which Conditions Can Intensive Commuting Be a Way of Life?



Travelling extensively for job reasons is often seen as a matter of personal choice, for the sake of one’s own career or family. Yet, evidence on subjective experience of spatial mobility practices remains limited. In this paper, we argue that socio-economic and mobility conditions impact the way people perceive and experience high mobility. A large European sample of highly mobile people were studied to determine to what extent long-distance commuting, long-distance relationships and regular absence from (the main) home for job reasons are perceived as a way of life, i.e. a situation where people have incorporated their practices of high mobility into their private life and shape a positive, lasting vision of them. We show that, in the long run, people making frequent overnight business trips, men, self-employees, those with a high work status and high mobility resources are more likely to see their mobility as positive. Long-distance commuters living with partner and children and those firmly settled in their place of residence tend to see their mobility as a necessity. Finally, women, single parents, people with a low work status, low mobility resources and poor access to transport facilities are more likely to perceive their mobility negatively, which can be seen as a forced mobile way of life. High positions at work were found to be a better predictor of a mobile way of life than education. Overall, this study shows that work-related high mobility may reinforce gender and social inequalities. Besides migration, long-distance commuting and frequent travel for job reasons should receive more attention in current debates and research on work-family balance.


Mobility Pattern Mobile Individual Lone Mother Mobility Experience Spatial Mobility 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.



The authors wish to express their heartfelt thanks to John Urry for his insightful comments to earlier versions of this paper, although he is not necessarily in agreement with the authors’ point of view.


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of Social and Political ScienceUniversity of EdinburghEdinburghUK
  2. 2.Laboratory of Urban Sociology (LaSUR)Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (EPFL)LausanneSwitzerland

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