Social networks, travel and talk1



This paper considers the role that physical, corporeal travel plays in social life. There is a large and increasing scale of such travel. This increase has occurred simultaneously with the proliferation of communication devices that in some ways substitute for physical travel. I hypothesize that the bases of such travel are new ways in which social life is ‘networked’. Such increasingly extensive networks, hugely extended through the informational revolution, depend for their functioning upon intermittent occasioned meetings. These moments of physical co-presence and face-to-face conversation, are crucial to patterns of social life that occur ‘at-a-distance’, whether for business, leisure, family life, politics, pleasure or friendship. So life is networked but it also involves specific co-present encounters within specific times and places. ‘Meetingness’, and thus different forms and modes of travel, are central to much social life, a life involving strange combinations of increasing distance and intermittent co-presence. The paper seeks to examine the place of travel within the emergent pattern of a ‘networked sociality’. It seeks to contribute to the emerging ‘mobility turn’ within the social sciences.