This discussion with social theorist/sociologist Mimi Sheller introduces the “new mobilities paradigm” for an audience with interests in mobile communication and digital media. It addresses the emergence of the ﬁeld of mobilities research, its antecedents and current directions, along with some speciﬁc questions of theory, methods and research approaches. Mimi Sheller guides readers to understand the dynamic nature of mobilities
research. She starts by explaining what mobilities research is not. Mobilities has traditionally been associated with nomadism, social hierarchies and other forms of social mobility. However, under the new mobilities paradigm, it is more appropriate to think of mobilities as the convergent ﬂows of people, objects, information and infrastructures that enable movement. More than a topic, mobilities is an approach. With the mobilities way of thinking, immobilities and moorings are as relevant as movement. Sheller also urges us to consider the power relations associated with mobilities:
for someone to move, someone else needs to be static. Then she explains how the idea of communication was originally linked to movement, but then technologies like the telegraph and radio generated new ways to communicate and disconnected the physical movement from ﬂows of information. Today smartphones and other forms of mobile technologies allow us to be on the move and communicate with each other at the same time. The students’ questions included in this chapter range from methods used in mobilities research, to the connection of mobilities to disability studies. One of the most important points Sheller makes is a call to reconcile the concepts of static and mobile. The conclusion includes a reﬂection on Sheller’s argument which emphasizes
mobilities as a diﬀerent way to approach social science studies, the interdependence
of mobilities and immobilities, and the understanding of mobilities as a power relation that allows some people to move while it hinders the movement of others’.