Place and Mobility: A Statistical Archaeology of Pedestrian Logistics in 20th- and 21st-Century Toulouse

Varia 88
By Roland Canu, Franck Cochoy

The interest of sociologists and urban planners for mobility and urban circulation issues focuses to a large extent on motorized transport. Despite their permanence and the developments for which they have been the object, pedestrian logistics remain less well known. We show in this paper the extent to which the joint use of bodies and containers played nonetheless a great part in the birth and transformation of our contemporary consumer society. We address this question by exploring how the transport of goods evolved over time in urban areas, and by identifying the types of containers involved and the links between the organization of the city, motorized transport systems and these pedestrian logistics. We use a case study of the city of Toulouse, from the late nineteenth century to the present day, and a methodology that combines archeology, ethnography and statistics. The research findings emphasize a threefold historical evolution: it relates to the gender of individuals (feminization of urban space), to their mobility rhythms (slower movements) and to the deployment of human logistics, including handbags (personal objects) and branded/shopping bags (retail objects). These developments illustrate the role of consumer logistics in the reconfiguration of the practices and techniques involved in everyday urban life.

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