Sustainable Consumption Teaching Series: Henrike Rau on “Consumption, Mobility and Life Events”

By Henrike Rau, LMU Munich


Questions to guide discussions

  1. Are life events really windows of opportunity for change? In addition to moving to a new home or changing jobs, what other life events could initiate changes in mobility?
  2. Mobility socialisation is a life-long process. How could mobility services and infrastructure be adapted to suit people at different life stages? Can you think of examples in relation to older age groups, or families with small children?
  3. Different cultures attach different meanings to key life stages and events. How does this influence people’s mobility practices? An example is giving around the importance of learning to drive in diverse cultural contexts, perhaps as a symbol of freedom and independence, or increased responsibility. Can you think of other examples?


Henrike Rau is Professor of Social Geography and Sustainability Research in the Department of Geography at LMU Munich (Germany). Her research focuses on (un)sustainable consumption in relation to mobility, energy and food, and theoretical and methodological aspects of inter- and transdisciplinary sustainability research. She has led and participated in large-scale national and international research projects, including the CONSENSUS project on consumption, environmental and sustainability ( and the ENERGISE project ( Her publications include ‘Methods of Sustainability Research in the Social Sciences’ (Sage, 2013), ‘Challenging Consumption’ (Routledge, 2014) as well as 40+ peer-reviewed articles and book chapters.

Recommended readings

  • Chatterjee, K. and Scheiner, J. (2015) Understanding changing travel behaviour over the life course: Contributions from biographical research. In: 14th International Conference on Travel Behaviour Research, Windsor, UK, 19-23 July 2015. Available from:
  • Freudendal-Pedersen, M. (2009) Mobility in Daily Life: Between Freedom and Unfreedom. London: Routledge.
  • Lanzendorf, M. (2010) Key events and their effect on mobility biographies: The case of childbirth. International Journal of Sustainable Transportation, 4(5): 272-292.
  • Müggenburg, H., Busch-Geertsema, A., & Lanzendorf, M. (2015). Mobility biographies: A review of achievements and challenges of the mobility biographies approach and a framework for further research. Journal of Transport Geography, 46, 151–163.
  • Rau, H. and Manton, R. (2016) Life events and mobility milestones: Advances in mobility biography theory and research. Journal of Transport Geography, 52: 51-60.
  • Sattlegger, L. and Rau, H. (2016) Carlessness in a car-centric world: A reconstructive approach to qualitative mobility biographies research. Journal of Transport Geography, 53: 22-31.

Additional resources

Rau, H. and Manton, R. (2015) Mobility Biographies: A study of life events and mobility milestones in Ireland. CONSENSUS Briefing Note No. 3.