Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


School of Geography and Sustainable Communities


This thesis examines the relationship between walking and everyday family lives. Sitting at the intersection of mobility studies and children’s geographies, this thesis responds to recent calls from geographers to investigate family mobility as a relational place and identity making practice. This thesis offers the familial walking assemblage as a feminist inspired conceptual framework to reimagine how places and family are constituted on-the-move somewhere. Attention is drawn to thinking about how familial identities and places emerge through the entanglement of sensuous bodies, ideas, emotions, affects and the more-than-human. Building upon methodological arguments which advocate for sensory and mobile methods, a walking sensory ethnography was developed involving interviews, drawing activities, go-alongs, video and audio recorded walks and follow-up conversations. Sixteen families, including twenty-four parents, one grandparent and thirty children (aged 3 months to 15 years), living in Wollongong, a car-dependent regional city on the east coast of New South Wales, Australia, participated in the research. Analysis of empirical materials draws on assemblage thinking integrated with material feminist theories to highlight the challenges and complexities of walking for families which are often ignored by walkability research. For instance, the formation and upkeep of motherhood through moments of care; the affective affordances and atmospheres of pram mobilities for children and mothers; the material and expressive forces of walking with the weather; and the emotional politics of family bushwalking. By examining these more-than-human entanglements and emerging subjects this thesis highlights the less tangible, emotional and affective moments, discourses, movements and flows which influence why, how and when families walk together. This thesis seeks to inform policy debates about what constitutes a pedestrian-friendly city for families.



Unless otherwise indicated, the views expressed in this thesis are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of the University of Wollongong.