'I like to go out to be energised by different people': An exploratory analysis of mobility and wellbeing in later life

  • Ziegler F
  • Schwanen T
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This paper adds to the growing number of studies about mobility and wellbeing in later life. It proposes a broader understanding of mobility than movement through physical space. Drawing on the ‘mobility turn’ in the social sciences, we conceptualise mobility as the overcoming of any type of distance between a here and a there, which can be situated in physical, electronic, social, psychological or other kinds of space. Using qualitative data from 128 older people in County Durham, England, we suggest that mobility and wellbeing influence each other in many different ways. Our analysis extends previous research in various ways. First, it shows that mobility of the self – a mental disposition of openness and willingness to connect with the world – is a crucial driver of the relation between mobility and wellbeing. Second, while loss of mobility as physical movement can and often does affect older people's sense of wellbeing adversely, this is not necessarily so; other mobilities can at least to some extent compensate for the loss of mobility in physical space. Finally, wellbeing is also enhanced through mobility as movement in physical space because the latter enables independence or subjectively experienced autonomy, as well as inter-dependence in the sense of relatively equal and reciprocal social relations with other people.

Author-supplied keywords

  • County Durham (UK)
  • mobilities
  • qualitative methods
  • wellbeing

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  • Friederike Ziegler

  • Tim Schwanen

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