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Doctoral defence: Anniki Puura “Relationships between personal social networks and spatial mobility with mobile phone data”

On 14 January at 14:15 Anniki Puura will defend her doctoral thesis “Relationships between personal social networks and spatial mobility with mobile phone data” for obtaining the degree of Doctor of Philosophy (in Human Geography and Regional Planning).

Associate Professor Siiri Silm, University of Tartu 
Associate Professor Anu Masso, Tallinn University of Technology, and University of Tartu 

Associate Professor Pnina Plaut, Israel Institute of Technology (Israel)

We live in a networked society where, in addition to the physical mobility, communication which is mediated by information and communications technology (ICT) is also central. It increasingly requires an inclusion of networks as a theory and method to understand social processes. The aim of the thesis is to gain new depths of knowledge about relationships between an individual’s personal social network and spatial mobility. The work is based on two types of mobile phone data: collected by mobile network operators and smartphone application. Information about the call activities metainformation (anonymised codes of users who initiated and received the call activities, time of the activities) and locations of mobile phone users allows them to be used to analyse the links between personal social networks and spatial mobility. The research of the doctoral thesis focused on relationships in Estonia and covers different periods between 2013 and 2017. The general result of the thesis shows that people with spatially more extensive personal networks move around more. Through a typological approach, three types based on the spatial distribution of networks and spatial mobility are distinguished: dispersed networks and high mobility; dispersed networks and low mobility; and concentrated networks and low mobility. On this basis, not all people with spatially dispersed networks are highly mobile. The relationships were mostly explained by gender and ethnicity of an individual, use of ICT, share of family members in the networks, ethno-linguistic composition of networks, and population density of residential area. The results help to better understand inequalities in society, such as ethnic segregation or accessibility.

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