Mobility Biographies in Three Generations – Socialisation Effects on Commute Mode Choice

Mobility Biographies in Three Generations – Socialisation Effects on Commute Mode Choice


Lisa Döring, Department Of Transport Planning, TU Dortmund, Joachim Scheiner, Department Of Transport Planning, TU Dortmund, Christian Holz-Rau, Department Of Transport Planning, TU Dortmund


The mobility biography approach is increasingly recognised in travel behaviour studies. Related empirical studies analyse key events and individual´s mobility experiences over the life course. Apart from personal experiences social context and their socialisation through family members play an important role in this respect. This paper presents a theoretical framework to analyse commute behaviour over the life course of different generations and gives preliminary empirical results. The empirical work is based on a retrospective survey conducted annually since 2007 at TU Dortmund University (Germany). The relationship between the travel mode use, the individual and parental attitudes towards travel modes, and residential locations over the life course is analysed. The results indicate that attitudes and residential locations of the younger generation in a family are associated with the same variables of their parents. The residential characteristics and attitudes in turn are significant predictors for travel mode use on commute trips. The results provide evidence for socialisation effects on commute mode choice.


In current transport research the mobility biography approach gains increasingly attention. Thus, the roles of individuals´ experiences, life phases and key events over the life course for their travel behaviour are recognised. Even though Hägerstrand pointed out the importance of the life path already in the 1970s (Hägerstrand 1975), the life paths were neglected in travel behaviour studies for a long time. Just recently a new approach has picked up its importance (Scheiner 2007; Beige/Axhausen 2006), and called it mobility biography approach (Lanzendorf 2003; Scheiner 2006; Scheiner 2007). Recent studies in this field focus on changes in mobility behaviour caused by key events such as residential relocation or changes in the job, the household or family structure (Scheiner/Holz-Rau 2013a). The approach provides insights into causality and the general linkages between mobility and its impact factors.
Apart from relatively suddenly occurring changes by residential relocations or other key events, individual behaviour is driven by relatively stable personal norms, values and preferences over time. These factors may have their origin, on the one hand, in changes in a person´s life course , and on the other hand, in social networks and context including peer groups, school, family or (Bauer 2012:2).
This paper analyses the linkages between family members´ preferences for travel modes, residential location characteristics, and mobility behaviour over the life course. In particular, the influence of attitudes and residential location on commute mode choice are analysed over two generations. In the following, the recent debate about mobility socialisation and mobility biographies is summarised and a theoretical framework for the analysis of travel behaviour by intergenerational mobility biographies is introduced. Subsequently, the empirical work is presented and interpreted.


Association for European Transport