What is the Mobile Lives Forum ?
The Mobile Lives Forum is a « transinstitut ». Created in 2011, the Mobile Lives Forum is an institute for research on and discussion about mobilities. The Mobile Lives Forum treats mobility as both physical movement and social change. It focuses specifically on the dialectic between movement, telecommunications and social mobility understood as how individuals develop sociability that, in varying degrees, is grounded in the local or distant, slow or fast, urban or rural, changes of role, identity or status.
The Mobile Lives Forum is preparing for the mobility transition by trying to imagine good mobile lives for the future. Mobility has long been seen as one of the constituent elements of technological and social progress, itself considered the driving force behind the forward march of humanity, without limitations. In this era where energy, environmental and economic issues are ever-increasing, a critical approach is necessary. The Forum is doing a qualitative assessment of mobilities to prepare for this mobility transition. This entails imagining good mobile lives for the future and ways of implementing them while rethinking the balance between physical travel, telecommunications and activities schedules in our regions.
The Mobile Lives Forum is transdisciplinary . It brings together scholars, mobility researchers, artists and transportation practitioners from different backgrounds and is developing an approach based on the coupling of experience, reason and emotion to create a new area of knowledge.
The Mobile Lives Forum is transnational . Supported by international teams of researchers and artists, the Forum explores mobile lifestyles without cultural or geographical boundaries.
The Mobile Lives Forum is transgressive . It encourages debate, controversy and pioneering viewpoints.
Why SNCF has created the Mobile Lives Forum?
“We move a lot, often and far. Travel and movement are at the core of our beings; they enable and condition the exercise of all our activities -work, education and vacations - not to mention our emotional and social lives. They seem natural to us. A given. Travel has always benefitted from technological progress; thus have the train, car and plane gradually yet overwhelmingly increased our potential for movement, allowing us to transform our lives and the spaces in which we live. The flipside is that the frequency of travel and conditions in which we do so are too often “endured” and can endanger the very structure and stability we seek for our lives.
Today there is little doubt that we have entered a renaissance in terms of modes of transportation and the lifestyles that go with them. On the one hand, the drawbacks: environmental hazards and energy crises call for innovative policies and changes in the way we live in order to better manage scarcity. On the other, the opportunities: the emergence and continued development of new information and communications technologies most notably have altered the conditions of transportation use, allowed new players to emerge and given new authority to users. Our travel options will also undoubtedly be greatly affected, and our future plans will have to be adapted accordingly. Planning and development policies and localization strategies for companies will need revisiting.
These changes interest the international mobility group that is SNCF today, particularly in view of the services it offers its customers and insomuch as it contributes to the development of the regions it serves. In 2011, SNCF created an institute where these changes and their social, economic, environmental and political impact are studied and debated by researchers, artists, intellectuals and professionals – freely and without taboos. This independent institute is henceforth known as the Mobile Lives Forum.”
For the Mobile Lives Forum, mobility is understood as the process of how individuals travel across distances in order to deploy through time and space the activities that make up their lifestyles. These travel practices are embedded in socio-technical systems, produced by transport and communication industries and techniques, and by normative discourses on these practices, with considerable social, environmental and spatial impacts.
Movement is the crossing of space by people, objects, capital, ideas and other information. It is either oriented, and therefore occurs between an origin and one or more destinations, or it is more akin to the idea of simply wandering, with no real origin or destination.