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The Mobility Field Theory of Human Spatial Behavior: A Behavioral Approach to the Study of Migration and Circulation in the Indian Situation

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Title:The Mobility Field Theory of Human Spatial Behavior: A Behavioral Approach to the Study of Migration and Circulation in the Indian Situation
Authors:Mukherji, Shekhar
Contributors:Chapman, Murray (advisor)
Geography and Environment (department)
Keywords:internal migration
rural-urban migration
mathematical geography
residential mobility
Date Issued:Dec 1975
Publisher:[Honolulu] : [University of Hawaii at Manoa], [December 1975]
Abstract:The main human problem of rural to urban movements in the Third World is that people are mostly moving from unemployment to underemployment, from one kind of poverty to another, resulting in a colossal waste of human resources and great human misery. Set within this context, there is surprising lack of concern among geographers and population specialists with such problems and no adequate spatial theory for understanding and dealing with such considerable mobility. This dissertation attempts to fill this lacuna. The concept of mobility field and a mobility field theory model are developed, at the level of both the individual and the aggregate system, to provide a theoretical basis for understanding the complex of factors that lead people to move, as well as to generate clues for migration-mobility planning to help alleviate such human problems. The field theory is tested with fine-grained data that refers to 305 sampled individuals and was collected in a field survey of Varanasi City, Northern India.
Mobility field theory states, in both verbal and mathematical form, that (1) at the level of the individual, the movement behavior of a person located at place i, towards another place j, is a linear function of both that person's specific need-stress-attribute set and his perception of place utility distances between that pair of places (origin-destination); and (2) at the level of the aggregate system, the need-stress-attribute structure of individuals in a population, their perceived place utility distances between pairs of places, and the resultant types of mobility behavior, are interdependent parts of the mobility system, called mobility field, within which any natural or induced change in one part generates corresponding changes in other parts.
The crux of the theory lies in mapping out the bases of mobility behavior space (M) on to that of the combination of utility distance-cum-need-attribute space (AU), and ascertaining the degree of interdependence and isomorphism between the structure of attribute-cum-utilities and the patterns of mobility behavior. This test of interdependence and causal-functional links is performed by canonical analysis and in canonical form the theory can be represented as M ~ AU. Mobility field theory thus indicates the causal relationships between people's needs, as filtered through place utility considerations, and the resultant mobility behavior that arises from attempting to satisfy those needs.
The final canonical analysis identified nine patterns of causal relationships between attribute-cum-utilities and movement behavior that were statistically highly significant. These were: 1) poor, economically disadvantaged people searching for manual jobs and moving to places of greater job-urban utility gain; 2) young people, aspiring to social mobility are moving for higher studies; and also the urban to rural circulation of former peasants back to their respective villages for harvesting or visiting family and for kinship utility gain; 3) educated, unemployed persons looking for professional positions; 4) the landless and unemployed seeking gainful employment; 5) unemployed, income dissatisfied, and indebted people moving in the hope of employment and security; 6) movements of the underemployed; 7) high-caste, rich landowners migrating medium distances; 8) temporary migration due to high job-income dissatisfaction; and 9) oscillation of scheduled castes under conditions of severe drought and debt.
This study, by providing many significant tests of interdependence between need-attribute-cum-utility distances and mobility behavior patterns, not only empirically verified the main postulate of mobility field theory, but also generated many clues for planning. These findings from canonical analysis call for alleviating the social, economic, and political condition of village people in India, as in immediate land reforms and developmental programs and for setting up a settlement network, wherein growth would be focussed so that movement flows could be redirected to more desirable places.
Description:PhD University of Hawaii at Manoa 1975
Includes bibliographical references (leaves 363–368).
Pages/Duration:xiv, 368 leaves : illustrations, maps
Rights:All UHM dissertations and theses are protected by copyright. They may be viewed from this source for any purpose, but reproduction or distribution in any format is prohibited without written permission from the copyright owner.
Appears in Collections: Ph.D. - Geography

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