Mapping opportunity in time and space: An inductive approach




Activity Spaces, Kairos, Life Course, Opportunity, Occasion, Pockets of Local Order, Time Geography


Several authors delineate “geographies of opportunity,” which are assumed to influence individual life courses. In transport geography and related subjects, “opportunity” is a term that is frequently used to circumscribe dynamics of spatial and social mobility. However, previous approaches to opportunity usually apply deductive reasoning in such a way that opportunity represents a local feature whose functional utility impacts individual lives. Such approaches are inadequate for the analysis of individual life courses, as neither the emergence of opportunity nor its meaning for individual motives is sufficiently incorporated. Such neglect may lead to insufficient or even incorrect conclusions about the relation of space, mobility and the life course, because a concept for systematic mappings of opportunities in both individual life courses and space has not yet been developed. This paper aims to reconceptualize opportunity as a personally and socially experienced interrelation between agents and their socio-spatial environment with beneficial outcomes for the respective life courses. With regard to mapping opportunity, pockets of local order and occasions are presented as mappable spatiotemporal entities. Occasions are sections in timespace, which are unique and meaningful to the development of the individual life course. Finally, we discuss implications for empirical application, future research, planning and policy.

Author Biographies

David J. Hoelzel, Department of Transport Planning TU Dortmund University, Dortmund, Germany

David J. Hoelzel is a PhD student at the Department of Transport Planning, Faculty of Spatial Planning, Technische Universität Dortmund, Germany. His current research is concerned with activity spaces and residential mobility and the interrelations with the life courses of emerging and young adults.

Joachim Scheiner, Department of Transport Planning TU Dortmund University, Dortmund, Germany

Joachim Scheiner received his PhD in geography at Freie Universität Berlin. He is now a professor in transport studies at the Department of Transport Planning, Faculty of Spatial Planning, Technische Universität Dortmund, Germany. His research focuses on travel behaviour in the context of residential mobility, spatial development and societal change.


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How to Cite

Hoelzel, D., & Scheiner, J. (2022). Mapping opportunity in time and space: An inductive approach. Journal of Transport and Land Use, 15(1), 207–229.