Panel B.05 — Navigating Boundaries: Mobilities and Social Justice in Contemporary Education

Convenors Alessandra Polidori (Université de Neuchâtel); Flora Petrik (University of Tübingen)

Keywords Mobility, Education, Social Justice, Youth, Empathy


Mobility emerges as a profound topic amidst the shifting tides of our society. The proposed panel delves into the nuanced relationship between mobility and education, exploring its implications and consequences for social (in)justice.

In the late modern era, mobility has become a fundamental requirement woven into the fabric of our lives, demanded by society on multiple fronts (Canzler, Kaufmann & Kesselring 2008). Moving between different types of educational institutions plays a pivotal role in young people’s biographies, international mobility has become a central symbolic capital for students and academics, the job market mandates perpetual flexibility and professional mobility. Simultaneously, the relentless pursuit of social mobility through education becomes both a societal demand and a promise. In the context of migration, mobility stands as a constitutive element of our post-migrant society. The imperative of mobility has become deeply ingrained in biographies and trajectories (Cuzzocrea and Mandich 2016). Research has thus increasingly turned to questions regarding mobility, some even stating a “mobility turn” in the 1990s (Urry 2008), leading to a rethinking of the relationship between movement, space, and bodies.

In the context of education, mobility is traditionally perceived as a catalyst for learning, transformation and an increase in knowledge and competences (Bernhard 2023). However, mobility and the accompanying processes of learning are never ‘neutral’ but always intertwined with societal power relations, forms of subjectification, and social inequality. The ways in which individuals respond to the imperative of mobility, the access they have to different forms of mobility, and the complex relation between mobility and educational success or failure all echo the broader questions of social justice. With our panel, we want to unravel the meanings of mobility for social justice, shifting the focus to both physical movement (such as migration, studying abroad, travel, commuting) and social mobility (movement between social classes or positions). In order to do so, we aim at bringing together scholars that investigate different forms of mobility, their effects and their relation to social (in)equality.

Among our areas of interest, we focus on the following questions:

  • What insights into societal norms and its transformations does the study of mobility yield?
  • Which interdisciplinary theoretical and methodological approaches are essential for comprehending mobility and its relation to education?
  • How do mobility experiences shape the educational paths of young people?
  • What role do mobility experiences play in fostering empathy, reflexivity, and political engagement and awareness?
  • To what extent is mobility linked to inclusion and exclusion in education? How is access to mobility regulated, and what factors facilitate or impede it?
  • What specific resources (e.g. forms of capital) are imparted through mobility experiences, and what prerequisites are necessary?


Guidelines and abstracts submission