Skip to Main content Skip to Navigation
Journal articles

When mobility makes senses: a qualitative and longitudinal study of the daily mobility of the elderly

Abstract : A majority of North Americans hopes to grow old in the suburbs. This aspiration depends upon their ability to drive and their access to a car. Because it is essential for everyday travel, car-mobility in the suburbs is becoming a symbolic goal. The meanings of mobility for elderly will evolve over time, notably as a result of changes in autonomy. However, the mobility of older adults is mainly understood in terms of daily trips. Little research has considered the temporal dimension of aging as an evolving process. This study aimed at understanding with a qualitative and longitudinal perspective how older people stay (auto-)mobile in their house and their neighborhood against the need to adapt to reduced autonomy and mobility over time. A group of 22 suburbanites aged from 62 to 89 was interviewed in 1999 and in 2006. The results show that even if older people succeed in increasing their mobility, they are headed for inevitable immobility. Among the environmental adaptation strategies that were observed, the constructed behaviors, the dependencies demanding additional supports as well as the social life modulate different evolving experiences of the city: the shrinking city, the fragmented city, and the city by proxy. The built environment is at the heart of a complex process in which the adaptation of mobility contributes to the emergence of new residential experiences.
Document type :
Journal articles
Complete list of metadatas
Contributor : Rosine Schlumberger <>
Submitted on : Tuesday, September 20, 2011 - 11:03:48 AM
Last modification on : Thursday, March 5, 2020 - 5:44:19 PM


  • HAL Id : halshs-00624932, version 1



Sébastien Lord, Carole Després, Thierry Ramadier. When mobility makes senses: a qualitative and longitudinal study of the daily mobility of the elderly. Journal of Environmental Psychology, Elsevier, 2011, 31 (1), pp.52-61. ⟨halshs-00624932⟩



Record views