Accepted Paper:

The tensions between mobility and stasis in two contexts of super-diversity  


Karen O'Reilly (Loughborough University)

Paper short abstract:

This paper theoretically examines the usefulness of the concept of mobility for those who live in its shadow. It does this for two contexts of what Steve Vertovec is calling super-diversity: contexts characterised by complex, fluid, changing, and heterogeneous forms of mobility, social change, and cultural and social categorisations.

Paper long abstract:

This paper is particularly interested in the tensions between mobility, on the one hand, and social stability, on the other. It seems to me that, while discourses of mobility, transnationalism, postmodernism, global communities, non-fixity, and the lack of importance of locality proliferate in the academic literature, the rhetoric of modernity - of place, community, inequality, and social cohesion - persists in popular discourse, and the discourse of state policies and voluntary groups. Modernist models of the nation, locality, and community still also resonate with people's daily lives. There is thus an ambivalence in cultural messages about community and contradictions and tensions that are felt and have to be managed day by day. I have undertaken long-term ethnographic fieldwork with European migrants in Spain, and have recently started a new project: a community study of a small town in the East Midlands, which explores the concept of community in the context of super-diversity. In Spain, fixed notions of nation, ethnic group, immigrant, and tourist impact on policies designed to manage fluid mobile practices. In Shepshed, locals yearn for the return of old-style community, for supermarkets and shops, while policy-makers advise locals how they can embrace change, learn to be a successful dormitory town, and appeal to middle-class incomers whose hearts may be elsewhere. I would like to draw on the ethnographic data from these studies to theoretically examine the usefulness of the concept of mobility for those who live in its shadow.

Panel IW01
Mobility: frictions and flows