When mobility rhymes with social engagement



The opening of the metro station in Laval certainly made life easier for thousands of workers commuting to Montréal every day. However, many people were concerned that the metro would accelerate the arrival of street gangs whose activities could include recruiting new members in the suburb. But in fact, the metro had an impact on the mobility of youths. How does taking the metro change young people's perception of the world around them? Does "mobility" rhyme with "social engagement"?

Increased mobility creates a stronger sense of competence and a more pronounced social engagement.

Julie-Anne Boudreau, research professor at INRS–Urbanisation, Culture et Société, took a look at this question. Within the framework of an exploratory research project, she studied youths' representations of the city and the suburbs, and the politicization of youths from these two environments in relation to their daily use of public transportation and their resulting mobility. Her research was based on the hypothesis that intensifying youth mobility would cause young people to develop skills that help them to overcome obstacles to their personal and social development (low self esteem, uncertain identity and the loss of bearings).

The results of the study indicated that increased mobility creates a stronger sense of competence and a more pronounced social engagement. The study also showed that youth seek autonomy of movement and see this as a chance to obtain a certain amount of freedom. "Spatial navigation" leads to a "social navigation" allowing them to explore the world, react to constraints and adapt to different situations. As the saying goes, "travel broadens the mind"!