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Activity settings and travel behaviour: A social contact perspective


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  • Andrew Harvey
  • Maria Taylor


Using time-use data from Canada, Norway, and Sweden, this study briefly outlines the essence of the activity setting approach and illustrates one aspect of its usefulness by exploring the impact of social contact on travel behaviour. The activity system approach views behaviour in context. Activity settings are generic components of the activity system and studying them using time-use diaries can provide major insights into travel behaviour. Focusing on social contact, this paper characterizes the social environment in terms of social circle (interaction partners) and social space (location). The analysis shows that there are clear differences in the levels of social interaction across various groups, including those who work at home. The 1992 Canadian data showed people working at the workplace spend relatively more time with others, about 50% of total time awake. Working at home reduced the time with others to a low of 15.7%. when people worked at home the family benefited, almost doubling the time spent with them compared to those working at the workplace. Persons working at home only spend the most time alone. There is a tendency for persons with low social interaction to travel more. It is argued that individual need, or want, social contact and if they cannot find it at the workplace they will seek it elsewhere thus generating travel. Whether this is the result of need or opportunity is of minor relevance, what it does suggest is that working in isolation at home will not necessarily diminish travel but rather may simply change its purpose. Copyright Kluwer Academic Publishers 2000

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Bibliographic Info

Article provided by Springer in its journal Transportation.

Volume (Year): 27 (2000)
Issue (Month): 1 (February)
Pages: 53-73

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Handle: RePEc:kap:transp:v:27:y:2000:i:1:p:53-73

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Keywords: activity settings; social contact; time-use; travel behaviour;


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Cited by:
  1. Pinjari, Abdul Rawoof & Bhat, Chandra R. & Hensher, David A., 2009. "Residential self-selection effects in an activity time-use behavior model," Transportation Research Part B: Methodological, Elsevier, vol. 43(7), pages 729-748, August.
  2. Spinney, Jamie E.L. & Scott, Darren M. & Newbold, K. Bruce, 2009. "Transport mobility benefits and quality of life: A time-use perspective of elderly Canadians," Transport Policy, Elsevier, vol. 16(1), pages 1-11, January.
  3. Donggen Wang & Fion Law, 2007. "Impacts of Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) on time use and travel behavior: a structural equations analysis," Transportation, Springer, vol. 34(4), pages 513-527, July.
  4. Kathleen Deutsch & Konstadinos Goulias, 2013. "Decision makers and socializers, social networks and the role of individuals as participants," Transportation, Springer, vol. 40(4), pages 755-771, July.
  5. Bhat, Chandra R. & Sivakumar, Aruna & Axhausen, Kay W., 2003. "An analysis of the impact of information and communication technologies on non-maintenance shopping activities," Transportation Research Part B: Methodological, Elsevier, vol. 37(10), pages 857-881, December.
  6. Ram Pendyala & Chandra Bhat, 2004. "An Exploration of the Relationship between Timing and Duration of Maintenance Activities," Transportation, Springer, vol. 31(4), pages 429-456, November.
  7. Arnaldo Mont’Alvão & Neuma Aguiar, 2009. "Travel Time in a Brazilian City," Social Indicators Research, Springer, vol. 93(1), pages 219-222, August.
  8. Steven Farber & Antonio Páez & Ruben Mercado & Matthew Roorda & Catherine Morency, 2011. "A time-use investigation of shopping participation in three Canadian cities: is there evidence of social exclusion?," Transportation, Springer, vol. 38(1), pages 17-44, January.
  9. Florence Rodhain & Bernard Fallery, 2010. "Après la prise de conscience écologique, les T.I.C. en quête de responsabilité sociale," Post-Print hal-00821450, HAL.


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