Using non-representational theory to explore older people’s travel to and from the supermarket

Emma Waight, Yuanyuan Yin

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This article presents non-representational theory as a methodological approach to illuminate the lived experiences of older people’s everyday mobilities using the example of travel to and from the supermarket. Previous studies have explored older people’s everyday mobilities and highlighted a number of challenges, but few studies address specific journeys, such as grocery shopping, and none empirically engage with non-representational theory. In this article we draw on a qualitative research study with participants over the age of 65 living in the UK as we investigate their journeys to and from the supermarket. We present three vignettes/personas of individuals with differing needs and experiences. and find that their grocery shopping journeys are not just about procuring food but also sociomaterial events that both affect, and are affected by, bodily capabilities and mental wellbeing. We conclude with some recommendations for designing older people’s local travel experiences and argue for non-representational theory as a method for accessing the socio-material world in which everyday mobilities play out.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)537-552
Number of pages16
Issue number4
Early online date24 Feb 2021
Publication statusPublished - 4 Jul 2021
Externally publishedYes


Economic and Social Research Council (Grant Ref: ES/K009648/1)


  • mobility
  • grocery shopping
  • NRT
  • senior
  • travel
  • nrt
  • ageing
  • Mobility

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Demography
  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • Sociology and Political Science


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