Activity settings and travel behaviour: A social contact perspective
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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