Residential Trajectories in the Early Life Course and their Effects

Gil Viry, Heather Hoffmeister, Eric D. Widmer

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter (peer-reviewed)


Rational choice approaches consider spatial mobility to be the result of a synchronous comparison between costs and outcomes done by individuals led by exogeneous preferences without regard for past experiences of mobility, habitus entrenched in long-lasting practices, and cultural resources made available to them by their family of origin or acquired through a history of social mobility. Quite to the contrary, the life course approach emphasises the importance of the succession of events and the accumulation of resources over time for the understanding of behaviours, representations or goals of individuals as they currently stand (Levy et al. 2005; Sapin et al. 2007). Without some knowledge of the pathways that led to present mobility, it is in our view difficult to fully grasp the constraints and opportunities that explain individual actions and their consequences regarding mobility. Therefore, at the individual level, the timing of crucial experiences through the life course gains a predominant explanatory importance. Indeed, chronological age2 plays an important role in interaction with opportunities, constraints, and experiences to shape later-life experiences, decisions, and opportunities. The processes of becoming mobile, the kinds of mobility that people take on, and the influence of mobility on family life are all dimensions of mobility that are rooted in life course experiences.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationGendered Life Courses Between Standardization and Individualization
Subtitle of host publicationA European Approach Applied to Switzerland
EditorsR. Levy, E. D. Widmer
PublisherLit Verlag
ISBN (Print)9783643801432
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2013


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