chapter  1
7 Pages

Introduction: conceptualising intergenerational mobilities


Douglas Coupland’s novel Generation X is subtitled ‘Tales for an accelerated culture’, referring to the speed of living, of consuming and of moving of a particular generation. This is an acceleration of affluence including mobility affordances such as cars, computers and mobile phones. As Henseler (2013: 1) suggests, ‘Generation X is a cohort with personal and political experiences that have marked the way they look at the world and they live in the world’. It is a generation as much determined by mobilities as the ‘Y’ and ‘Z’ generations that followed and the ‘baby boomer’, ‘wartime’ and ‘pre-war’ generations that preceded. The movements of people, objects, knowledge, communications and ideas, in their defining moments in history, shape generations. But at the same time these generational cultures are not solely productive of our mobility experiences and similarly they are not solely defined by their associated mobile contexts. Rather, people travel through life, back and forward in a lifecourse in which generational cultures and identities intersect with myriad other social identities in time and place. Generations imbibe, contest and reproduce the prevailing cultures of mobilities. These cultures are sometimes placespecific but often move between places. Generational identity and belonging are dependent on number of factors, and so a particular generation with a particular mobility culture is unlikely to be homogeneous according to age. Generation is a mobile social category that is lived in time and space. Hence relations between generations will be complex, multifaceted and dynamic. This collection, which emanated from a session on intergenerational mobi-

lities at the Royal Geographical Society with Institute of British Geographers Annual International Conference (London, August 2014) is concerned with the ways in which generation, as a relational and fluid concept, is constructed and played out in relation to other generations through mobility. It seeks to address gaps in knowledge in relational geographies of ageing, whilst contributing to literature in mobility and transport, with an emphasis on inequalities and unevenness. In this collection, mobility is considered in its broadest sense (Cresswell 2006; Sheller and Urry 2006), although here more often to the movement, or lack of movement, of bodies that are aged and ageing. Mobilities are determined through constructions of social groups according to age; for

example childhood, parenthood and older age. There is emphasis also on the contexts in which these mobilities are produced, the mobile spaces, from very local spaces of medical care and urban encounters to global spaces of transnational migration. These embodied movements and their spaces and times, together with the broader constellations of mobilities, determine intergenerational mobilities. This collection explores these interdependencies and considers ways in which intergenerational mobilities are conceptualised and researched. A mobilities approach, as I have argued elsewhere (Murray 2015a: 302) ‘precipitates a transdisciplinary and intergenerational approach to the understanding of ageing and mobility’ as ‘an approach that is relational in respect to the co-production of age and space and the construction of age across generations’.