The emergence of technology has brought upon us autonomy. From the invention of the wheel to the manufacturing of nanochips, technology has provided for us an opportunity to extend ourselves beyond the limit of time and space. As we continue to be ushered into hyper-modernity through the whirlwind of technological advances, our mobility is evolving to be a result not only of our physiology but of an entire system of networks enabled by technology. Mobility has become indicative of modernity and characteristic of twenty-first century societies.
Mobility has become such a significant term in the twenty-first century because mobility is a sign of modernity and it has transformed our lives in terms of health, economics, transportation, socialization, and culture. Various studies regarding mobility have contributed to the definition of the term. In his discussion of the dilemma of automobility, Olle Hagman (2006) asserts that the attraction of the car for its billion patrons comes from the freedom of movement which this technology promises. The car simulates the modern “time-machine” which shrinks time and space.
In this sense, Hagman suggests that mobility breaks the barrier between speed and distance and makes a parallel between the advances in technology, modernity and our capability to be in transit. On the other hand, Chambers (2006) proposes the idea that mobility is the condition in which our physicality, consciousness and space are extended and the private and the public realm converge. This is evident, he says, with the emergence of the Walkman and other mobile audio devices which have enabled people to be both isolated and integrated in an environment.
Brabazon, Kent, Cull and McRae (2005) also refers to mobility as an extension not of the body and consciousness, but of representation. In their article, audio mobile phones have enabled people to make a statement about their identities by bringing along with them the music which define their attitude, style, political views, etc. Mobility allows them to represent themselves in a more expansive way than previously done. Chambers echoes what Hagman asserts in his essay in that audio mobility allows an individual to traverse two realms—the private and public—without the obstruction of time and space.
As a person plugs his audio device to his ears, he is both in his private world, listening to the music of his choice, and at the same time he is walking around a street, mingling with other people. Another sense of mobility can be culled from Chambers analysis. The idea of isolation, while generally associated to modernity, also relates to mobility in that one cannot be mobile without being autonomous. This condition of mobility demonstrates the intertwined relationship of mobility and modernity. It may even be further extended to the extent of asserting that the two terms are synonymous.
In another study by Marvin and Medd (2004), a different dimension of mobility involves the complex networking present in modern societies. The study by Marvin and Medd revolves around the literal movement of fat within bodies, cities and sewers. They explore how this movement reveals the linkages between these three elements of urbanity, and how a failure in this network results to immobility. Grieco and Raje’s (2004) study on a transportation failure in the peripheral communities in London similarly reflects the relationship between networks and mobility.
The failure of the transportation network due to poor urban planning and financial shifts in public transportation sector resulted to the exclusion of people living in low income housing projects. Grieco and Raje (2004) term their condition as “stranded mobility. ” Regardless of this failure, what can be deduced from their study is the fact that mobility cannot be independent and must exist in a network. Technology enables the building of networks, illustrating how modernity and mobility are intertwined.
In both studies, networks created by urban expansions—such as transportation and technology networks, sewer systems, etc—become a prerequisite for mobility and this relationship suggests how mobility, though previously explained as a condition of autonomy, also depends on interconnectedness present in modern societies. A failure in the conduit of movement, for instance, of grease from restaurants and fast food chains, as detailed in Marvin and Medd (2004) resulted to spillage and traffic delay.
The absence of proper communication network within the stranded communities in London and the urban center resulted to a gap in the transportation service leading to social exclusion, poor health service and low income generation (Grieco and Raje, 2004). These varying definitions of mobility from the cited studies reveal the paradoxical nature of mobility in twenty-first century as it indicates both the condition of autonomy and interconnectedness. All instances of mobility—auto, audio, urban and social mobility—bear out both the advantages and disadvantages of modernity.
For instance, in the study made by Hagman (2004), the advent of automobile technology enables people to escape the hassles to public transportation by choosing their own routes and travel schedule. It also allows them to have their own private space even in the middle of a bustling road. However, because of the attraction of automobiles, the increasing number of cars has resulted to congestion which limits the freedom of drivers in urban roads. Hagman (2004) claims that congestion proves to be the failure of automobile in fulfilling its promise of mobility.
The expansion of network which modernity has brought upon the twenty-first century city has resulted to an efficient web of roads and highways. This development has increased the mobility of transportation and, consequently, of business and services. However, as Grieco and Raje (2004) point out, expansion also brings about exclusion as demonstrated in the stranded status of communities in low income housing in UK. Although there exists an efficient network of transportation, some communities do not benefit from it. As a result, basic social services are delayed and for some, even neglected.
The mobility of transportation ironically caused the social immobility of the communities involved. As mentioned, the problem of network also involves the study Marvin and Medd (2004). The paradox of modernity and mobility in this case present a disproportionate relationship in that the sprawl of houses, food chains, and restaurant in the metro have clogged the network and obstructed mobility, such as of traffic. Marvin and Medd propose that in order to repair this obstruction, it is necessary to view bodies, cities and sewers as an integrated system rather than independent features of urbanity.
The study by John Urry regarding the nature of corporeal and virtual travel demonstrates, perhaps more overtly, the paradox of mobility and modernity. Urry asserts that mobility enables people to increase their social capital by building networks, attending to their families, and expanding their experience. However, the emergence of virtual mobility threatens to change the nature of corporeal mobility because there are functions of the latter—such as social and time obligations—which cannot be replaced by the former.
Modernity, which has birthed the internet, mobile phones, television and other devices of virtual mobility, has transformed corporeal mobility and has the potential to eventually change social relationships. The idea of mobility cannot be possible without modernity. These twin phenomena are characteristic of twenty-first century societies always at the throng of change and development. As the studies have shown, mobility does not result to homogenous effects as there are limitations to modernity which constantly reshapes the way we live our lives. References: Brabazon, T, Cull, F. , Kent, M.
, McRae, L. (2005). Jingle the single: the i-podification of the music industry. In AQ, May-June 2005, pp. 23-36. Chambers, I. (2006) The Aural Walk. In C. Cox and D. Warner (eds). Audio culture; readings in modern music. p98-101. New York: Continuum. Grieco, M. and Raje, F. (2004). Stranded mobility and the marginalization of low income communities: an analysis of public service failure in the British public transport sector. Paper presented at the conference on Urban Vulnerability and Network Failure: Constructions and Experiences of Emergencies, Crises and Collapse, University of
Salford. Hagman, O. (2006) Morning Queues and Parking Problems: On the broken promises of the automobile. Mobilities, vol. 1 no. 1. 63-74 Marvin, S. and Medd M. (2004). Metabolisms of Obecity: Fat across bodies, cities and sewers. Paper presented at the conference on Urban Vulnerability and Network Failure: Constructions and Experiences of Emergencies, Crises and Collapse, University of Salford. Urry, J. (2009). Mobility and Proximity. Retrieved January 15, 2009 from Le Journal L’ivm http://www. ville-en-mouvement. com/interventions/John_Urry. pdfSample Essay of BuyEssay.org