Ongoing theses

Mobility dependancy in rural-urban areas: the case of Creil and La Roche-sur-Foron

Maya El Khawand – Dir. Caroline Gallez (LVMT, Université Gustave Eiffel) & co-dir. Vincent Kaufmann

Over the past few decades, improvements in travel conditions have led to socio-spatial transformations, including urban sprawl and increasing distances between housing and workplaces. These spatial changes have led to significant social inequalities, such as limited access to fast travel modes, which highly depends on personal characteristics such as age, revenue, gender, etc. (Geurs, Van Wee, 2014) or to residential locations with good amenities or efficient public transport services. Both of these spatial transformations of urbanized areas and the social valuing of mobility have led to the increase need to travel more frequently, sometimes further, and faster (Kaufmann, 2008). This process of “mobility dependency” results in two forms of prejudice for precarious social groups: lack of accessibility for those who do not have access to mobility, or significant financial costs, difficult and longer travelling time for mobile people but severely constrained in their movements (Fol, Gallez, 2017).

In the 1990s, to counter the effects of car dependency and urban sprawl, Peter Calthrope developed the doctrine of “Transit Oriented Development” (TOD). While this model is mainly applied in dense urban areas, the European TOD IS RUR project, of which this research is part of, is interested in how this development model could be extended to sparsely urbanized areas. In this thesis, we are interested in the ability of a railway model to moderate mobility dependency in peri-urban and rural areas especially of people on modest incomes and particularly women.

This thesis is based on a comparison between two case studies: Creil, a commune located the outside fringes of the Ile de France region. It is strongly dependent on the metropolis which is reflected in the high rate of daily commuting. The second case study is the small town of “La Roche-sur-Foron,” located in the French peripheries of Geneva metropolis and served by the new Léman Express railway, the transborder French-Swiss infrastructure.

Making the difference by spatial practices (working title)

Sanja Platisa – Dir. Yves Pedrazzini & co-dir. Vincent Kaufmann

The rapid growth and high differentiation of urban population is challenging urban planning practice. Cities are characterized today with heterogeneous structure of inhabitants, diversity of cultures, nationalities, religions, languages etc. These differences are reflected as well in different spatial needs and practices of inhabitants.
Taking part in the SNSF Difference-Oriented Urban Planning project, the objective of this PhD thesis is to study the relationship between the form and use of urban space on one side, and complex identities of inhabitants on the other. For that purpose, it is focusing on perceptions of inhabitants originated from Balkan region, speaking Serbo-Croatian language. To reach the objective, data obtained through architectural spatial analysis combined with interviews and mental mapping methods will be used. The findings of the study are to be used later on in enabling participation processes in urban planning practice, with the aim to identify and promote practical measures that urban planners can implement to contribute in creating sustainable and inclusive urban territories.
Interdisciplinary research, in the framework of Diff-Urb project, will be done in 4 European cities (Geneva, Brussels, Turin and Hamburg) with different traditions of planning and models of governance, with a look back on Belgrade as a mirror case, relevant for the topic of the research.

Fixed terms. Sociology of the “home” challenged by flexibility : the case of Millennials subrenting or co-living in Geneva and London (working title)

Fiona Del Puppo – Dir. Luca Pattaroni & co-dir. Garance Clément (Morgan Centre, University of Manchester)

The thesis project dialogues with work sociology and housing sociology. It focuses first on the neoliberal flexibility ideal destabilizing the labor market. This ideal is also infusing all spheres of life, along with discourses fostering mobility, individual performance and self-accomplishment, even more for young individuals marketed as “Millennials”. They are going through an uncertain transition towards adulthood, as it is no longer established by traditional thresholds such as completion of studies, moving in with a partner, finding a stable job. We assume that the housing market answers this generation dealing with an increasing mobility and precarious employment status with flexible housing we define as shared and fixed-term: sub-renting and co-living. This research aims to sociologically study the distinctive methods employed to constitute a “home” within flexible housing as previously described. It relies on the study of this type of housing in Geneva and in London, using qualitative methods such as interviews and ethnographic observations, but it is also including original graphic observation and analysis methods valuable in the understanding of the spatial and material recompositions within the home. It focuses on the case of young individuals facing difficulties related to flexibilization, as it appears to offer a focus point from where to study wider social dynamics at stake. This thesis aims to renew the science of the “home”, along with the research project “Domotopy” on which it relies, that seeks to understand the effect of the transformations of life rhythms on the ways people live in and relate to their homes.

Motility as an asset for socio-professional integration (working title)

Éloi Bernier – Dir. Vincent Kaufmann & Rafael Lalive (HEC UNIL)

The scientific objective of this thesis, funded by the EPFL, is to develop an index measuring an individual’s ability to be mobile in order to integrate durably into the job market.

The index focuses on individual access, skills and mobility projects, related to the individual’s field of possibilities in terms of mobility and analysed in the perspective of his professional project. Its statistical construction allows the weight of each component within the index to be objectively weighted, based on data from a sample of jobseekers with a mobility coaching since 2021 provided by associations of the MOBIN network’s in several French regions.

Such an index can be used by the associations, among other things, to attest to the social impact of the coaching system for funders (by comparing the index at the beginning and end of the coaching). This index makes it possible to attest to the progress of recipients’ autonomy in more detail than by using the usual indicators, which are often binary and focused on obtaining a driving licence and finding a job.