Mathis Stock (Université de Lausanne)


From 13:30
to 15:00
From 13:30
to 15:00

Course description

Urban mobility is one of the most important problems cities face nowadays since the urban economy is shaped by a highly varied flux of different forms of mobility. Commuting, leisure, tourism, migration, business, education, retirement, etc are different forms shaping the city. One the one hand, cities have become “visitor economies”: in the course of the deindustrialisation, a service economy based on commerce, leisure, culture as well as traditional tourism, but also meetings, incentives, congress events (MICE) has developed cities as places of interlocking mobilities. Cities have long been using tourism as a means for generating economic income, yet there is a growing concern with its sustainability. On the one hand, the issue of overtourism is examined, where the role of the different kinds of stakeholders are examined. Rooting in the 1970’s criticism of mass tourism and the notion of carrying capacity, there is a renewed resistance to negative effects of tourism (overcrowding, tourism-induced gentryfication, eviction of everyday activities and commerce, etc.) since 2015. After decades of pro-growth policies, there is now an attempt to regulate more effectively tourism in certain European cities. On the other hand, in the context of the SARS Co-V 2 pandemic, tourism has abruptly stopped, showing cities without tourism for the first time for decades with huge yet temporary impacts on the urban economy. This event allows for questioning of traditional models of tourism development and to the fear of losing tourism as basis for the urban economy. The opportunities and challenges of a newly regulated urban tourism are currently discussed by various stakeholders.

On the other hand, the residential development of sub- and peri-urban areas mean new patterns of commuting mobilities for travel to work as well as multi-chained mobilities of residents. These have been challenged by the possibilities – offered by the use of ever more powerful telecommunication devices – to substitute a physical movement by telecommunication. In the context of the ecological and the digital transition, there are new issues of urban mobilities: 1) the emergence of “mobility as a service” paradigm where urban mobility needs the coordination of new actors in order to deliver the service. This implies the potential coordination of public transport, taxi, bike services by digital devices; yet, therefore privacy issues are attached. 2) the sustainability of urban mobilities with the reduction of car-based travel by the development of new public transport and bike infrastructures on the one hand, and, on the other, the development of electric cars as answer to the ecological challenges.

Venice will serve as a case study to the current challenges of mobility. Historic Venice attracts more visitors than it has inhabitants, making it the Italian city with the highest rate of passengers per inhabitant. The movement is not recent, as Venice lost a good part of its inhabitants during the so-called economic miracle, and as a result being driven into an overall touristification. The circulations between the main land and Venice for multiple purposes (work, study, shopping, leisure, nightlife, etc.) adds to the tourist movement and calls for subtle management. One of the key features is the Venice Smart Control Room, which aims for exerting control over the multiple mobilities. Excursions to hot spots of mobility problems as well as the encounter with the different stakeholders (such as ACTV and the Venice Smart Control Room) will be part of the course.


Learning outcomes
• On a cognitive level, a) to gain knowledge about mobilities and the “mobilities turn” as a theoretical problem for social science; b) to understand mobilities as current political, economic, ecological and geographical issue; c) to frame cities as a system of varied mobilities and visitor economies.
• On a methodological level, a) to discuss and criticise scientific texts, b) to be able to conduct case studies and c) carry out and make use of excursions, especially the use of “mobile methods”.
• From a communication point of view, a) write an essay on mobility and the city and b) communicate orally in a structured way on a specific topic and defend a specific opinion.


Teaching methods
The weekly sessions will be structured around two main forms of teaching methods: 1) ex-cathedra input; 2) discussion of readings and presentations that will privilege interactivity. Students will also be able to present the draft of their final paper in the final two weeks. Teacher’s and students’ feedback will help them to write an enhanced final version. In addition, co-curricular activities will allow to grasp first-hand material gathered through excursions and encounters with relevant stakeholders.


Evaluation will be based on:
• Class participation (50%) based on readings, presentations and discussion
• Final essay (50%).


1) Introductive theoretical sessions: readings and discussions of the fundamental texts and authors about mobility and urbanism, in order to acquire the tools necessary to understand the contemporary issues (weeks 1 to 8).
2) Case studies sessions, based on excursions and encounters with Venice stakeholders (weeks 9 to 10).
3) Students’ presentations (weeks 11 and 12). Students will present the draft of their final paper. Teacher’s and students’ feedback will help them to write an enhanced final version.


Week 1: Mobilities and the City: An Introduction

Week 2: The “Mobilities turn” in Social Sciences

Week 3: Urban theory in the age of planetary urbanisation

Week 4: Cities as Visitor Economies: issues of sustainability of the “short-term city”

Week 5: Mobility Controls and Surveillance Technologies

Week 6: The quantification of mobilities: from survey to big data

Week 7: Mobilities issues in Venice: who moves how (and how can it be accounted for)?

Week 8: Managing mobilities: mobility as a service in Venice

Week 9: The touristified city and sustainable futures

Week 10: Overtourism and the renewed criticism and resistance to tourism

Week 11: The airbnbisation of the city as element of tourism gentrification

Week 12: Conclusion and final presentations


• Adey P, Bissell D, Hannam K et al. (eds) (2014) The Routledge Handbook of Mobilities. London: Routledge
• Büscher M, Urry J and Witchger K (eds) (2011) Mobile Methods. London: Routledge.
• Celata F and Romano A (2022) Overtourism and online short-term rental platforms in Italian cities. Journal of Sustainable Tourism 30(5): 1020-1039.
• Cresswell, T. (2010) « Towards a Politics of Mobility », Environment and Planning Part D: Society and Space 1, p. 17-31.
• Jover J and Díaz-Parra I (2022) Who is the city for? Overtourism, lifestyle migration and social sustainability. Tourism Geographies 24(1): 9-32
• Lévy J. (dir.), 2009, The city reader. Ashgate
• López‐Gay A, Cocola‐Gant A and Russo, AP (2021) Urban tourism and population change: Gentrification in the age of mobilities. Population, Space and Place 27(1): e2380
• Merriman P (2012) Mobility, Space and Culture. London: Routledge.
• Sheller M (2016) Uneven mobility futures: A Foucauldian approach. Mobilities 11(1): 15–31.
• SHELLER Mimi et URRY John, 2006, The new mobilities paradigm, Environment and Planning A, vol. 38, n° 2, p. 207–226.
• Stock M, 2007, European Cities: Towards a Recreational Turn?, Hagar. Studies in Culture, Polity and Identities, vol. 7 (1) 115-134
• Stock M, 2019, Inhabiting the city as a tourist. Issues for urban and tourism theory. In : Frisch T., Sommer Ch., Stoltenberg L. & Stors N. (ed.), Tourism and Everyday Life in the Contemporary City, Routledge
• Stock M. (ed.), 2021, French tourism geographies. Inhabiting touristic worlds, Springer
• Urry J (2007) Mobilities. Cambridge: Polity



Last updated: 17 January, 2023



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