Investigating young men’s experiences of walking in secondary cities: A comparative study of walking in South Africa and the United Kingdom

Projoect Leader: Prof. Gina Porter
Dept of Anthropology, Durham University, South Road, Durham, UK.


  • Bradley Rink, Associate Prof. and Head of Dept of Geography, Environmental Studies & Tourism, University of the Western Cape, South Africa 
  • Bulelani Maskiti, Independent Researcher/UCT, South Africa
  • Sam Clark, Transaid Head of Programmes, UK
  • Georgia Ryan, Transaid project officer, UK 


This proposal builds on our novel exploratory research in EP-2022-WK-01, which investigated an initial hypothesis that many young men walk city streets with considerable trepidation when travelling between home and public transport.

That study constituted the first mobilities study purely focused on young men’s walking mobility practices, while also utilising an innovative participatory peer research methodology. It researched young men’s walking practices in low income neighbourhoods of two primate cities, Cape Town and London, and demonstrated the significant range of challenges that young men face as they walk between home and transport hubs and the diversity of tactics they employ to address them.

This project moves the focus to young men resident in low income areas of two secondary urban centres – Mossel Bay and Worthing – where motorised transport services are less available than in primate cities. Given the general sparsity of mobilities research in secondary cities and absence of other studies focused on young men’s mobility, it will provide important new knowledge.

In this follow-on project we ask, how do young men in secondary city locations in our two study countries, South Africa and the United Kingdom, experience and practice mobilities? It continues with the innovative peer research methodology we have developed but incorporates additional methodological experimentation through a life history component. This is introduced because the research conducted in London and Cape Town suggests that tactics are tailored not only by local transport availability, resources and neighbourhood environments, but also by length of residence and past personal mobility experiences: life history matters. Life history work was not part of our planned programme in EP-2022-WK-01 and is rarely used in mobilities research, but it may offer valuable insights that cannot be easily picked up when the focus is on mobility experiences of the past few days or weeks.