Accepted paper:

Preventing mobility: national borders, urban gates and the political will to disable


Speranta Dumitru (University Paris Descartes)

Paper short abstract:

According to the social model of disability, it is society that disables physically impaired people. By analogy, borders control can be viewed as a political decision to prevent mobility. The paper analyses how migration policies and urban plans reduce accessibility to opportunities to the very poor

Paper long abstract:

Since the 1970, the social model of disability has pointed out how "it is society which disables physically impaired people" (UPIAS, 1976). Rather than an individual bad luck, explained in medical terms, disability appeared to be more and more as the result of a social and spatial exclusion. As the decisions to build flights of stairs, inadequate public transport and unsuitable housing are often collectively taken and financed by public funds, they can be analyzed as political decisions with disabling effects.

This paper compares two kinds of political decisions whose effect or aim is to prevent mobility: urban plans and restrictions on immigration. The question it will address is how urban gates and national borders depart from an equal mobility?

The paper is divided in three parts. The first section reminds why mobility has been described as a central human capability (Nussbaum, 2000; Robeyns, 2003; Kronlid, 2008), a capability to choose between different movement-functionings. The second section compares the impact of national borders and urban gates in terms of accessibility to valuable opportunities but argues for taking labor-time, not distance, as the relevant unit of analysis. The third section compares accessibility in terms of the opportunities' values and argues that preventing mobility by national borders and urban gates is a way to increase the existing inequalities.

panel P27
The inequalities of (im)mobility