Thesis (Ph.D)

Everyday life and travel behaviour of families with children: A case study in outer London


This PhD thesis explores the travel behaviour of families with children in a suburban area in outer London, and its potential to become more environmentally sustainable. The study employed a comprehensive everyday life perspective on family travel behaviour, looking at whole households and their everyday life, and at travel behaviour as embedded in it. A survey with all parents of four primary schools in the study area was conducted, followed by in-depth qualitative interviews with 19 households with children, 12 of which were interviewed again after two years. The interviews were analysed using thematic narrative analysis. The study finds that family everyday travel behaviour is mainly influenced by families’ space-time constellations, which in turn are a result of the combined influences of physical parameters and social norms, e.g. about parenting, such as choosing the right school and after-school activities for children. For working parents, the mismatch of work and school hours is a challenge. Other main influencing factors are: strict car use limiting transport policies, interests of parents in physical activity and life skills for their children, and pressures of looking after young children on parents’ mental health. Notable secondary, contributing factors are material and emotional experiences while travelling. All factors work together in the continuous process of the everyday life co-ordination of families, which is characterised by relationality, individualisation and fragmentation. Families use coping strategies to optimise the pursuit of everyday activities such as going to work, childcare, school or after-school activities, which meet family needs. The car is the mode of transport that is used for most journeys, irrespective of family background and needs. A dominant car culture was found to be engrained in the study area. Through investigating how family travel behaviour actually works in the context of everyday life, more grounded conclusions are drawn on how it could become more environmentally sustainable. Overall, this study suggests that drastic societal changes are required across several levels and sectors of community and government.

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Carrington, Iris


Supervisors: Brownill, Sue; Jones, Tim

Oxford Brookes departments

School of the Built Environment
Faculty of Technology, Design and Environment


Year: 2020

© Carrington, Iris
Published by Oxford Brookes University
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  • Owner: Iris Carrington
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