The video-ethnography of embodied urban mobilities

Authored by: Christian Licoppe

Handbook of Urban Mobilities

Print publication date:  June  2020
Online publication date:  May  2020

Print ISBN: 9781138482197
eBook ISBN: 9781351058759
Adobe ISBN:


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The purpose of this chapter is to show how, because of their embodied character, and their visual/normative ‘witnessable’ orderliness, urban mobilities, whether ‘old’ or ‘new’, are situated and public, self-organized, social phenomena, for the study of which qualitative, video-ethnographic methods are especially relevant. We show how such ‘video-ethnographic’ approaches allow us to make sense of the mobility of ‘single’ persons in traffic encounters within different types of urban flows, mostly related to new forms of urban mobilities (electric scooters in car traffic, pedestrian meetings, a driver active within both car traffic and social networks). The situations we study differ in terms of the common sense resources the analyst can bring into the video-ethnographic analysis. While such common sense resources are adequate in the first example (the electric scooter’s body gloss), it is not the case in the latter two (an arranged car sharing meeting between strangers, and the ‘connected’ mobility of a driver using her smartphone), and the video-ethnography of such urban mobilities calls for methodological refinements which we describe.

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