Types Of Mobility And Its Governing Systems Sociology Essay Example
Types Of Mobility And Its Governing Systems Sociology Essay Example

Types Of Mobility And Its Governing Systems Sociology Essay Example

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  • Pages: 16 (4383 words)
  • Published: September 29, 2017
  • Type: Research Paper
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Mobility refers to the ability of individuals, images, and objects to move quickly across different geographic spaces, both locally and globally. The intersection of mobility and individuality examines how individuality is perceived through movement between spaces, the impact of movement or lack thereof on individual identity, and how different forms of mobility shape different conceptions of individuality. Mobility has various meanings and implications; it is a social reality in a technologically advanced society, a necessary aspect of everyday life, and a cultural ideal for many. However, mobility is a limited societal capacity and is defined by its opposite, stationariness, which restricts the movement of certain things or people. In the global era, various forms of mobility have become more feasible and widespread due to technological advancements like digitization and long-range airplanes. The study of mobility also informs our unde


rstanding of globalization and encompasses the analysis of movement of people, goods, and vehicles at local and urban levels, influencing fields such as geography and urban planning.

According to John Urry, the emphasis on mobilities challenges the traditional role of societal universes and cultural identities in the social sciences. Urry believes that mobilities should form a conceptual model for a new era of social sciences that goes beyond globalization studies. This new era would be driven by advanced theories in areas such as web studies, digital technologies, and transit studies, which consider mobility as a fundamental aspect of societal life.


The concept of mobility combines human characteristics of identity and power with a dynamic understanding of space, place, and change. Different types of mobility are influenced by various geographical factors and the types of spaces people traverse (e.g., publi

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or private, urban or rural, real or virtual). Furthermore, cultural norms and contemporary security measures and immigration controls also impact different forms of mobility.

The text highlights various influences on mobility, including access to different modes of transportation (such as cars, computers, motorcycles, and roads) and the varying ability to be mobile based on factors like age, gender, body type, and identity. Mobility is understood in relation to stationary points, known as moorages, where mobility appears temporarily paused. However, absolute stillness is nearly impossible, so the concept of mobility suggests that everyone and everything is constantly moving, and it is the differences in scale, speed, and direction that create the illusion of relative stillness. Mobility can also be used to assess the impact of modern technology on social and spatial relationships, for instance, how remote work allows for any location to become a potential workplace. Additionally, mobility can be explored metaphorically through experiences of navigating virtual spaces via the Internet, video games, television, and film.

In previous geographical studies, the focus was on analyzing isolated places. However, theories of mobility view space as interconnected networks that facilitate the movement of people, goods, technologies, information, and images. This continuous movement serves as the foundation for mobility analysis while still acknowledging the material existence of life. Mobility is not intangible; it is connected to specific locations and expressed through tangible forms.

The concept of mobility varies depending on the individual and their circumstances. Factors such as who is moving, where, when, how, and why all contribute to the differences in mobility experiences. Immigrants, Diaspora populations, and international tourists have different mobility experiences compared to commuters, mobile peoples, or captives. Additionally,

the experience of mobility differs between men and women, as well as between different age groups, social classes, races, ethnicities, and nationalities. For example, when an adult and a child are traveling together, they may be involved in the same movement but perceive mobility differently. Therefore, their understanding and practice of mobility are distinct. Similarly, the experience of mobility in contemporary European space varies greatly for an academic with a British passport attending a conference compared to an Ethiopian economic migrant navigating through the illicit spaces of the underground economy.

Encountering difference is often a part of mobility. Travel writings and histories of foreign journeys typically romanticize unrestricted movement through unique places, while holidays, expatriation, and emigration are experiences of difference that create diverse mobilities.

Mobility in Sociological Theory

Theories of mobility exist at two levels: the factual and the metaphorical. First, they refer to a set of facts describing fundamental aspects and features of the contemporary social world associated with globalization, technological changes, fluidity, and speed. These frameworks argue that the world is characterized by unprecedented levels of mobilities: capital, people, information, and objects are circulating the Earth more frequently, in larger quantities, and at greater speeds. As the global extent of economic and cultural interactions intensifies, these entities increasingly recognize no boundaries.

This implies that societal action must be reconsidered as potentially occurring remotely, and the concepts of home and unfamiliarity, local and global, need to be thoroughly reconsidered. In addition, it is not only people who are mobile, but various kinds of objects, which results in increasingly complex global infrastructural and communications networks. In the digital age, due to factors such as the Internet, laptops, and

more advanced mobile phones, information relating to finance, leisure, trade, and politics circulates relatively freely across borders. Furthermore, mobility also encompasses a range of theoretical metaphors that some argue challenge traditional approaches to describing and analyzing the social world. The new metaphors of dizzying flux, mobility, and rapid change continue to capture the theoretical essence of our era. Traditionally, sociology has focused on analyzing the nature and extent of vertical social mobility in relation to class and stratification studies.

In this field, mobility refers to individuals' ability to move up or down the social ladder based on their acquisition of valuable assets such as education and wealth, as well as factors like family background, location, and inherited wealth. In this perspective, people do not simply move freely or easily. Instead, their mobility is understood within a conventional model of social relationships that is limited by space and often inflexible or slow-moving. In this model, mobility refers to individuals gradually changing their accumulation of socially valued assets like education or income throughout their lifetime. Contrasting with this traditional notion of social mobility, the contemporary concept of mobility is used to describe a series of intellectual and material shifts that fundamentally reshape how sociologists approach the fundamental structures of social and economic life.

Systems That Facilitate and Regulate Mobilities

Mobilities are closely connected to the infrastructure elements that shape and enable these movements.

Many of the things that enable mobilities are fixed in place and very static, enlisted into an interconnected technological system that supports massive global systems of mobility. For example, global air travel systems depend on airport hubs like Singapore or Dubai, strategically located around the world

for ease and efficiency in distributing passengers to other regional hubs or smaller terminals, as well as supporting the range of aircrafts without requiring refueling. Global air travel also relies on the existence of fixed wireless beacons for navigation, transmissions from a terrestrial radio station for establishing a glide slope to locate the runway, or runway lighting to visually alert pilots to the runway during descent. There are numerous other examples of such technological infrastructures that facilitate global mobility, including ports, docks, factories, storage areas, garages, and roads.

The increased scale and frequency of mobility necessitates that governments and organizations increasingly focus on potential problems that may arise due to mobile people and things. Governing mobility involves tracking, assigning roles, and monitoring moving entities. For instance, radar systems control the movement of airplanes worldwide by regulating aspects such as altitude and direction to prevent collisions. Another relevant example involves monitoring global population movements. Numerous authors highlight how globally interconnected computers and software comprise the fundamental infrastructure needed for screening, verifying, categorizing, and supervising international movements of individuals through ports and airports.

The foundation of regulating human mobility lies in the passport, which allows individuals to pass through ports in a controlled manner, while others are subjected to waiting, interviews, and international holding areas.

Dimensions and Types of Mobility

There are two distinct aspects that drive human mobility. The first is based on choice and capacity, where multinational mobility is becoming increasingly desirable. This type of mobility is driven by the freedom to choose and the ability to be mobile in various ways. It offers the promise of travel, connection, and enjoyable interactions with distant places and people, as well

as enhanced economic opportunities. This form of mobility often relies on social and cultural capital associated with income or occupation.

Some individuals are able to travel globally for work because they hold prestigious positions or possess highly sought-after skills, typically in fields related to business or technology. However, this ability to be mobile is dependent upon having certain cultural and economic advantages, indicating that it is not equally accessible to everyone in society. On the other hand, some people may travel for work due to being employed by multinational corporations such as banks, hotels, or airlines, which rely on a skilled labor force that can work globally at the executive level. In contrast, there are individuals who temporarily migrate between countries to fill low-paid jobs in more developed nations, such as caregivers or hotel workers. Additionally, some forms of mobility are driven by necessity or specific circumstances. This is the case for refugees or those seeking political asylum who flee oppression, violence, natural disasters, or social upheaval in their home countries.

The consequence of such movements is that national boundaries are becoming more open, with some believing this represents a significant reshaping of historical societal spaces associated with the nation-state. For instance, Neil Brenner argues that global history is characterized by rounds of global restructuring that cause population flows resulting in the displacement of some places and the establishment of others. What is evident is that the global population is continuously changing, a complex mix of movements at various levels and scales, set against strong nation-states attempting to restrict and control frequent arrivals at their border areas. Three types of movements, based on how people move, can

also be identified. First, there are material movements, referring to the physical movements of people.

These can occur on various scales and for various reasons. For example, people may frequently travel short distances within their local area for food, work, or socializing. Other types of physical mobilities are long-distance, transcontinental, and often for the purpose of tourism or business. Additionally, there are virtual mobilities that redefine the concept of being mobile: now one can experience different people, places, and events remotely through technologies like mobile phones and, especially, the Internet. These technologies are said to eliminate the need for physical space as they enable social interaction and communication beyond direct bodily presence.

Third is the concept of imaginative and innovative mobility, which involves the desire for various types of nomadic experiences related to tourism, such as planning, anticipating, and daydreaming about journeys or travel.


Several important critical issues arise when considering ideas of mobility. The emphasis on a highly porous and geographically limitless world that allows some individuals a significant degree of physical and cultural mobility is likely to invite criticism that mobility is a middle-class, Western-centric habit fostered by the contemporary world. The experience of mobility is unequal both globally and within individual societies.

The concept of mobility is commonly associated with freedom of movement, but it also encompasses its opposite, as seen in the experiences of refugees. Both people and things, when in motion, do not simply flow freely without encountering oppositions, obstacles, and boundaries. Additionally, when discussing the mobility of individuals, one must consider the role of structure and agency in facilitating movement, as well as the factors of will and desire for mobility. These factors

may include occupation, a longing to explore outside one's immediate surroundings, or a yearning for fresh encounters.

These disclaimers, however, are an important area of study within sociology and related subjects such as geography, economics, and urban planning. They highlight the increased mobilities in society and their significance in modern life.

Human mobility models

A study of existing human mobility models reveals various examples, including models that depict human walking through Levy flights. Statistics relevant to generating human mobility models are also examined. The included figure displays statistics on path, speed, and correlation of flight lengths and directions over time. Although not explicitly specified in Levy walk models, these statistics are useful for simulating human mobility paths.

Based on our information, it appears that most scenarios result in a relatively consistent distribution of turning angles. However, the New York City hints exhibit biases in certain directions, particularly at 90 and 270 degrees. This pattern is likely due to geographical factors, as Manhattan tends to have more frequent changes in perpendicular directions. Figure (a) displays the turning angle distribution in New York City hints, generated using a 30-degree angle model. These angle distributions demonstrate the impact of geographical constraints. Additionally, the speed of human mobility is strongly correlated with flight lengths, with speed increasing as flight lengths become longer.

Levy walks typically assume a constant speed, as evident in Fig. ( B ) which shows the relationship between flight lengths and speed. Additionally, we assess the auto-correlation of flight lengths and turning angles over a series of samples. We observe some auto-correlation in flight lengths for up to 10 sample slowdowns, whereas there is generally no auto-correlation in turning angles (although

in a few cases, we do find some negative correlation after one or two slowdowns).

There were no significant differences found between the statistics across various scenarios. Fig. ( c ) displays the representative auto-covariance coefficients. The significant autocorrelation of flight lengths suggests that when small flights are taken, there is a nonzero inclination for similar durations in the near future.

The form described in this paragraph cannot be explained by random walks, such as Levy walks, as these walks produce flights randomly without considering the past history of flights. The random models used are Random Walk (RW), Brownian and Random Waypoint Walk. The Brownian motion model uses I± = 2 and the Random Waypoint Walk chooses a random destination uniformly within the simulation area. The pause time distributions for these models are set the same as that in the Levy Walk model. To ensure that all the simulation runs are in their stationary states, the first 100 hours of simulation results are discarded to avoid transient effects, as explained in [18]. All models use the same speed model discussed in V-A.

Compared to BM's ICT distribution, the ICT distribution of Levy walks closely matches the measured ICT distribution in UCSD. We can accurately represent the power-law incline and also approximate the exponential decay at the tail end of the measured data. While there may be other types of mobility patterns that result in the same ICT distributions as UCSD's, this finding suggests that Levy walks more accurately model the real mobility that produces these features than BM. Additionally, the forms of ICT distribution for different mobility models are closely linked to their diffusion rates. In RWP, mobility

is highly diffusive, while in BM it is the least.

In LW, the diffusivity is mediated and it becomes more diffusing with a smaller value of I±. The mobility becomes more diffusing and the tail distribution of ICT becomes shorter. To support this, we conducted Levy walks with various I± values while keeping I? constant at one. Figure 10 (B) demonstrates that as I± decreases, the tail distribution of ICT also becomes shorter.

Mobility theoretical accounts can have spacial and temporal dependence, like the Gauss-Markov Mobility Model. They can also have geographic limitations, such as the Pathway Mobility Model. Flight shortness is a result of geographical restraints and observation artefacts. For example, flights that leave the country boundary are not seen. The distributions in Fig. 5 all show a shortage of flights longer than a few kilometres, which is evident as sharp drops in the frequency of very long flights.

This consequence is clear in the State hint shown in Fig. The State hint is obtained from a small area with a radius of less than 350 meters (which is smaller than the other four sites). As a result, it is more likely to have shorter distributions. The noticeable peaks in the curves suggest that the flight distributions may have long-tails, but not power-law distributions. It is possible that truncated power-law distributions, such as Weibull, can also fit these long-tail distributions. This issue of shortness has also been observed in previous studies of animal mobility. However, our data is inconclusive in disproving this.

However, there are indications that this may not be the case. Figure shows the CCDF of flights as we increase the flight angle in the flight

model. We observe that as the angle increases, the distribution becomes flatter with a heavier tail. Specifically, under the pause-based model (i.e., aI? = 180), it exhibits the heaviest tail.

The frequency of longer flights increases with more angle tolerance in the flight theoretical account, indicating an important characteristic in human mobility patterns. If we assume that humans hesitate when they reach a destination, the distribution of flights for the pause-based model suggests that human intent, rather than geographical constraints, causes longer flights with pauses. This also implies a scale-free tendency in flight distribution: as we remove constraints or expand the observation area, longer flights are expected. The Weibull model, which assumes bounded human intent, does not make sense. The power-law tendency of human mobility on a larger scale [14] provides evidence for this scale-freedom and self-similarity. Pure non-power-law long-tail distributions do not accurately describe human intent.

Comparison between theoretical accounts of human mobility

Applications of human mobility theoretical accounts show that the fat tailed leap size and waiting time distributions seen in individual human flights highlight the significance of continuous time random walk (CTRW) theoretical accounts. However, it is widely acknowledged that human movements are not truly random.

The importance of human mobility, ranging from tracking epidemics to predicting traffic and planning cities, necessitates the need for quantitative theoretical models that can explain the statistical characteristics of individual human flights. In this study, we utilize empirical data on human mobility collected through mobile phone usage to demonstrate that the predictions made by CTRW (Continuous-Time Random Walk) theoretical models are consistently contradicted by real-world observations. To address this discrepancy, we propose two rules that govern human

flights, enabling us to develop a microscopic theoretical model for individual human mobility that is statistically self-consistent. This model not only explains the observed scaling laws but also allows for analytical predictions of most relevant scaling factors.

Uncovering the statistical patterns that characterize the movement of individuals in the world throughout their daily activities is not only a significant intellectual challenge, but also important for public health (1-5), city planning (6-8), traffic engineering (9, 10), and economic forecasting (11). For example, measurable models of human mobility are essential for predicting the spread of biological pathogens (1-5) or mobile phone viruses (12). In recent years, the availability of mobile phone records, GPS data, and other datasets capturing aspects of human mobility have provided a new empirically driven boost to the subject. Although the available datasets vary in their extent and resolution, the results seem to agree on several quantitative characteristics of human mobility. For instance, both dollar bill tracking (13) and mobile phone data (14) indicate that the overall jump size (I"r) and waiting time (I"t) distributions that describe human movements have fat tails.

1, In this paper, we aim to demonstrate that human flights follow consistent scaling laws through direct measurements. These findings suggest that human flights can be described as Levy Flights (LF) or continuous time random walks (CTRW), which are well-studied models in the random walk (RW) community. However, some of the observed scaling laws cannot be explained by the CTRW model or are in direct contradiction with its predictions, indicating the lack of a modeling framework that can capture the fundamental characteristics of human mobility. To explain the origin of these scaling laws,

we introduce two rules governing human mobility, which serve as the starting point for a statistically valid microscopic model of individual human movement.

We demonstrate that the theoretical model is capable of explaining the scaling laws observed through empirical observations and enables us to predict the relevant scaling behaviors through analytical methods.

Scaling Anomalies

We utilized two datasets to identify the patterns that characterize individual mobility. The first dataset (D1) documents the time-resolved flights of 3 million anonymized mobile phone users over the course of a year. Whenever a user made or received a phone call, the tower responsible for routing the communication was recorded for billing purposes.

The user's location is determined by the density of local towers, with the declaration that is determined by the local tower density. The range of the tower's response varies from a few hundred meters in urban areas to a few kilometers in rural areas, creating uncertainty about the precise location of the user. However, for our study of the asymptotic grading properties of human flights, these small uncertainties in distance are not expected to affect our results (see Supplementary Material Section S1). The second dataset (D2) includes the anonymized location records of 1,000 users who signed up for a location-based service. Their location was recorded every hour for a two-week period.

To start, we assessed the displacement in hourly intervals, which occurred within a predicted range of I”r ~ 100 kilometers, representing the distance individuals could reasonably cover in an hour. Utilizing the D2 dataset, we measured P(I”t), where I”t represents the waiting time spent by a user at a specific location. Our findings

indicate that P(I”t) adheres to - = 0.8A±0.1, with a cutoff of I”t = 17 hours, likely capturing the typical waking period of an individual. Overall, the fat-tailed characteristics of both P(I”r) and P(I”t) imply that humans engage in a Continuous-time Random Walk (CTRW) during their daily mobility.

Next we discuss three empirical observations that indicate that human flights follow consistent grading Torahs, but besides illustrate the defect of the CTRW theoretical account in capturing the ascertained grading belongingss: The figure of distinguishable locations S(T) visited by a randomly traveling object is expected to follow 21-23 S(T) ~ t I?, where I? = 1 for Levy flights 24 and I? = I? for CTRW. Interestingly, our measurings indicate that for worlds I? = 0.6A±0.02 (see Fig. 1a), smaller than the CTRW anticipation of I? = 0.8A±0.1. The fact that I? & lt; 1 indicates a slow-down at big clip graduated tables, a deceasing inclination of the user to see antecedently unvisited locations. Trial frequence: The chance degree Fahrenheit of a user to see a given location is expected to be asymptotically (ta†’a?z) uniform everyplace (f ~ const.) for both LF and CTRW.

In contrast, the frequency distribution of the trial forms of worlds is uneven. The frequency of the kth most visited location follows Zipf's law, represented as 14 fk ~ K -I?, where I? is at least 1.2 ± 0.1 (see Fig. 1b). This suggests that the distribution of trial frequencies follows P (f) ~ f - (1+1/I?). Ultra-slow diffusion: According to the CTRW model, the asymptotic average square displacement (MSD) follows with V = 2I?/I± approximately equal to 3.1.

The convergence of P (I”r) and P

(I”t) to a Brownian behavior with a exponent of 5=1 is too slow to be relevant in our experimental timeframe. However, according to CTRW, the longer we follow a human flight, the further it will move from its initial position. Despite this, humans tend to return to their initial position on a daily basis, suggesting that simple diffusing processes that are not repeated in two dimensions do not accurately describe human mobility. Our measurements indicate an extremely slow diffusing process, where the MSD follows a growth rate slower than logarithmic (see Fig. 1c and Ref.).

14). The ultra-slow growth of the MSD in diffusion is a rare occurrence, previously observed only in a few different systems including glasses (such as the Sinai model 26), polymers 27, and iterated maps 28. On one end, the results summarized in A - C suggest that individual human mobility follows consistent grading laws, although their origins are still unknown. However, they also demonstrate systematic deviations from the expectations of the LF or CTRW based void models. The main objective of this paper is to propose a model that not only explains the sources of the anomalies A - C, but also provides a consistent statistical model of individual human mobility.

Generic Mechanisms and Individual Mobility Model

In our theoretical model, we acknowledge that the leap size P ( I”r ) and the waiting time P ( I”t ) distributions, which characterize individual human movements, follow heavy-tailed patterns. These patterns have been studied in previous theoretical models 29-33. However, relying solely on P ( I”r ) and P ( I”t ) is not enough to explain the observed

grading laws A - C. We propose that the reason for this discrepancy is that the traditional random walk models ( LF or CTRW ) lack two essential mechanisms, exploration and discriminatory return, which are unique to human mobility:
( 1 ) Exploration: Random walk models assume that the next step in the diffusion process is independent of previously visited locations. In contrast, grading law ( 1 ) suggests that the inclination to explore new locations decreases over time. As a result, the longer we observe a person's movement, the more difficult it becomes to find unvisited locations near their home or workplace.

( 2 ) The tax return that is discriminatory: Contrary to the theoretical accounts based on random and constant trial chance in infinite, humans have a significant inclination to return to places they have frequently visited before, such as their home or workplace. In the following text, we introduce an individual mobility (IM) model that includes factors (1) and (2), demonstrating that they are enough to explain anomalies A - C. The model, designed to describe an individual's movement, assumes that at time T = 0, the person is at a preferred location (see Fig. 2). After a waiting time I"t, chosen from the P(I"t) distribution, the person will change their location.


Exploration: With Chance

Pnew = I?S -I? when the individual changes location to a different one.

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