Passing propinquities in the multicultural city: the everyday encounters of bus passengering


Helen F. Wilson

Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Date


Subject Area

mode - bus, place - europe, policy - social exclusion


intercultural relations, bus passenger, Birmingham, social exclusion


This paper examines how intercultural relations are continuously developed, destroyed, and remade in the practice of everyday bus travel. Through an ethnographic study of one bus route across Birmingham, UK, the paper explores the formation of relational practices on the move and the bodily orientations, public codes of conduct, material cultures, habits and affects through which they are formed. In particular, this paper gives specific attention to the tacit obligations of public travel and how such obligations both produce and sustain tolerance of others across a journey, to further reveal the multifaceted nature and workings of multicultural intimacies on the ground. In so doing, the paper responds to recent calls to politically revalorise public mobility spaces as key sites of encounter and identity formation, to position the bus as a crucial site of everyday multiculture through which wider processes of differentiation and exclusion are experienced and further understood.


Permission to publish the abstract has been given by Enviornment and Planning, copyright remains with them.