Capturing Meanings of Place, Time and Social Interaction when Analyzing Human (Im)mobilities: Strengths and Challenges of the Application of (Im)mobility Biography

Julia Kieslinger, Stefan Kordel, Tobias Weidinger


In this article, we suggest (im)mobility biography as a method for reconstructing human (im)mobilities and related negotiations of meanings of place, time and social interaction. Based on biographical-narrative approaches and participatory ideals the combination of life history interviewing with a participatory timeline tool is the best fit for capturing individuals' life-worlds over time. After presenting theoretical presuppositions on relational meanings of place, time and social interaction, we provide an overview of biographical and participatory research in the context of human (im)mobilities and sketch methodological origins of the life history interview and the timeline tool. Furthermore, we address issues essential for planning and preparing (im)mobility biography, and demonstrate two different applications of the method in migration contexts in Germany and Ecuador. Subsequently, we present options for analysis and interpretation of textual and graphical data outputs. Keeping in mind strengths and challenges, we consider (im)mobility biography a valuable method for capturing (im)mobile life-worlds as well as contextual embeddedness of individual decision-making on moving or staying. Especially in terms of its participatory orientation, the visualization of migration trajectories facilitates structuration and memorization of life histories, allows for shared analysis even at the interview stage, and encourages participants to reflect on their biographies.


new mobilities paradigm; migration studies; participatory research; qualitative research; biographical research; life history interview; timeline tool; life-worlds

Full Text:



Copyright (c) 2020 Julia Kieslinger, Stefan Kordel, Tobias Weidinger

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.