Mobility As Strategy Of Providing Personal Security In Postmodern Society


In the modern world, which is often called a society of postmodern, a new form of worldview and lifestyle gathers force, which can be conventionally called mobility. Mobility implies unattachment of a human being to a place of residence, a place of work, permanent human environment. In the paper, mobility is considered as a constituent of a life strategy, allowing one, according to individual representations of testees, to achieve personal security more effectively, in contrast to settled lifestyle, implying greater vulnerability. The results of the research, conducted based on the youth sampling, are presented. The objective of the research was the study of mobility as a social phenomenon of postmodern society and determination of its individual-psychological determinants from the position of personality security psychology. The following was used as research techniques: a questionnaire, the method of studying value types by M.S. Yasnitskiy, the author’s method of studying strategies of providing personal security, the method of depth interview with subsequent meaningful and content analysis of data. Obtained results indicate high popularity of mobility as a preferable reference point in alignment of a life strategy of providing personal security. Strategic preferences are analysed in the context of value types and other psychological and social characteristics. A conclusion on the increase of “mobility tendencies” among postmodern youth is made, and unattachment, bordering with impermanence, becomes a part of “postmodern self”.

Keywords: Mobilitypostmodernpostmodern societypersonal securitystrategy of providing personal securitypsychology of personal security


The majority of thinkers, operating in the framework of the historical syntagma “premodern-modern-postmodern”, call the events, taking place over the last decade in the society and culture of the developed countries, as a “second phase transition”, i.e. a transition from modern to postmodern. To this transition is assigned an increasingly serious role in the world historical process rather than to the first one – from premodern to modern. The problem is actively discussed both in science and in public at large. Today in philosophy, history, sociology, culturology and other sciences, there are tens of different theoretical approaches to the problem of postmodern. Postmodern is a model, some scientific projection of the world state in the future, predicted proceeding from current tendencies of development.

Changes in the content, character and the very nature of relationships among people is probably the brightest manifestation of postmodernism. A reduction of the emotional constituent accelerates – emotional attachment weakens not only in business relationships, as it was in epoch of modern, but also in intimate ones. Apathy, indifference are strengthening; interpersonal empathy decreases. Inconstancy, incidence, contingency of interpersonal relationships are practiced in increasing frequency; individual self-reliance, independence from social environment, recognition of importance of individual interests and values are cultivated. D. Reisman indicates increasing alienation of people, emotional isolation and loneliness, calling society as a “lonely crowd”, where relationships among people are manifested in increasing frequency in the form of distrust and hostility (Reisman, Denney, Glazer, 1951).

Problem Statement

When describing modern network society, a concept “mobilistic traditions” is used as some type of the worldview. These traditions, according to researchers, are characterised by the aspiration for openness, freedom and alternative “deconstructive” thinking. Mobility becomes a popular lifestyle. Network elite and network nomads – people, who consolidated postmodern traditions of the network society in their lifestyle and relation to the world – appear. Their basic peculiarity – mobility – becomes possible due to development of the Internet technologies, allowing representatives of many professions to stay unattached to a definite place of work and, correspondingly, a place of residence. Space unattachment to social surrounding, when social interaction is transferred to virtual space, is also of essential importance for a possibility to lead such lifestyle. A digital nomad negates the “dream about the motherland”, since being mobile and using digital technologies, he can be in any corner of the globe (Shlyakov, 2015).

A number of studies, conducted recently in philosophy, sociology and psychology, form reconceptualization of personal security, which implies providing personal security by a human being or “security self-provision”. In this case, the main idea consists in the fact that personal security is a part of the system of human being attitudes to the world, which is much broader and deeper than it was traditionally understood. Interest in problems of strategies of personal security provision (Acquisti, Brandimarte, Loewenstein, 2015; Bruine de Bruin, Lefevre, Taylor, Dessai, Fischhoff, Kovats, 2016), subjective perception of threats (Niessen, Jimmieson, 2016), functioning of cognitive processes in a threatening situation (Vogt, Koster, De Houwer, 2016), interrelation between anxiety and threats perception (White, Skokin, Carlos, Weaver, 2016) and other related problems, indicating a high topicality of problematics of psychological aspects of danger and security is increasing.

In the psychological study conducted earlier, the authors managed to show that subject’s attitude to security is highly multifaceted and includes an individual hierarchy of threats, views of dangers and their negative consequences, ideas of providing security, underlying formation of life strategies. Studying life strategies of providing personal security, the authors described mobility as an element of the individualization strategy, implying a life purpose “to be mobile and self-reliant, do not depend on life conditions and permanent social surrounding” by it. Mobility acts as an alternative to life purposes, implying settled lifestyle: “to have properly protected housing, means of protection, material wealth” (which corresponds to an adaptation strategy) and “to surround oneself with reliable people, who can be trusted” (a socialization strategy). Results show that generally the people, aiming at values, belonging to the values of individualization – freedom, humanism, democracy, prefer mobility as a strategy of providing personal security (Ivanov, 2015).

Mobility, in its broad sense, is understood as motility, an ability to quickly change the state and position. In social sciences, mobility implies readiness of population and separate people to change the place of residence or work in search of the better conditions. Several kinds of mobility are distinguished – social, professional, academic, cultural.

In psychology, a significant quantity of experimental data were accumulated, indicating the presence of some generalised property, determining a general capacity for manifestation of any kinds of mobility, a personal quality, displaying itself in the behaviour and activity of the subject in the form of purposefulness, independence, openness to a new experience, creativity, motivation for self-development, agility in decision-making. Mobility is also understood as a definite type of response to reality, as existential orientation of a personality, represented in its structure in the form of the value and semantic construct, producing types, mobilization levels, adequate to environment requirements, at separate moments of life (Amirova, 2004). Some authors understand personal mobility broader – as a motility of inner states of the subject and readiness for personal changes, acting as a generator of personal self-development, transition of potential existence into actual (Proskura, Gerasimchuk, 2014).

Also, the number of publications on a positive role of agitation and worry in the making of effective strategies of providing personal security, has significantly increased lately (Brewer, Weinstein, Cuite et al., 2004; Hebert, Dugas, Tulloch, Holowka, 2014; Krizan, Sweeny, 2013; Llera, Newman, 2014; Perkins, Corr, 2005; Sweeny, Dooley, 2017).

Research Questions

In this paper, the authors attempted to find psychological explanations of these “mobilistic traditions”, namely – to clarify to what degree mobility as a lifestyle is adequate to realities of the changing postmodern world, to what degree this lifestyle is effective from the position of personality social success, and, correspondingly, whether it represents a basic trend with the tendency towards its further distribution or only a subculture, which will remain an option of small groups of population. Let us approach to solution of this task from the position of our approach to psychology of personal security, according to which the behaviour of the human being in many respects is explained by ideas of secure lifestyle and by purposes of personal security provision. The authors’ task is to show, using the results of the empirical study, that the phenomena under discussion in the postmodern society can be conditioned by the specifics of people’s representations of personal security and, correspondingly, preferences in the choice of strategies of its provision.

811 people, mainly students (the age of testees ranged from 16 to 30 years old, 36% of respondents are males, 64% - females; respondents’ education: unfinished secondary - 16% , general secondary 21%, specialized secondary - 16%, unfinished higher - 38%, higher 9%) took part in the study, conducted by the authors in Kemerovo region. The following specific tasks were set in it:

  • To study mobility as a strategy of providing personal security, to determine its role and place among preferences of modern youth.

  • To consider individual apprehensions of personality and representations about threats as factors of preferences of mobile security.

  • To characterise mobility as a social tendency of postmodern society.

Purpose of the Study

The purpose of the conducted study was a study of mobility as a social phenomenon of postmodern society and determination of its individual and psychological determinants from the position of psychology of personality security. In this study, mobility is understood by the authors more likely as a lifestyle, implying unattachment of the human being to the place of permanent residence and his readiness for frequent geographic movements. At that, mobility does not necessarily mean nomadism. From the authors’ viewpoint, not so much the fact of movements themselves as readiness for them is of decisive importance here, in which the very mobility of subject’s inner states, readiness for changes and a specific type of response that reveal themselves, which the authors of studies of personal mobility indicate.

Research Methods

The following methods were used as research techniques: a questionnaire, the method of value types study by M.S. Yasnitskiy, the author’s method of studying strategies of providing personal security. At the stage of development of a theoretical model of strategies of personal security, the method of the in-depth interview (30 testees) was applied with subsequent meaningful and content analysis of data.

The author’s method, included into the questionnaire, represents a list of goals, connected with provision of personal security, from which respondents were offered to choose those goals, which in their opinion would allow making their life the most secure. As a result of the analysis of the verbalized attitude of testees to the problems of personal security, in their previous studies the authors identified 9 groups of life goals, connected with provision of personal security, determining three types of strategies – adaptation, socialisation, and individualization. Each of the strategies is presented by three groups of goals, which correspond to spheres (factors) frequently used when describing the behaviour of the individual and social groups: a subject, microenvironment and macroenvironment. In this case, the goals, concerned with one’s self-development, aimed at enhancing readiness for providing personal security, pertain to the factor of the subject. The goals, connected with self-development, aimed at enhancement of the readiness for providing personal security. The microenvironment sphere includes goals, connected with organising conditions of the human being environment, a safe manner and style of life. “Macroenvironment” represents goals of providing personal security, connected with involvement of the human being in large social groups and society. Groups of goals, forming the described model, are presented in Table 1 .

Table 1 -
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In the presented model, the mobility strategy of interest to the authors belongs to the group of strategic goals in the sphere of microenvironment of the individualization strategy – to be self-reliant and mobile, not to depend on conditions of life and permanent social environment. This strategy (let us call it a strategy of mobile security) agrees with discussed “mobilistic tendencies” in modern society and, to a certain extent, is opposed to other strategies of personal security provision, belonging to the microenvironment sphere – to have well-protected housing, means of protection, material wealth necessary for providing security (the strategy of settled security) and to surround oneself with reliable people, who can be trusted (the strategy of collective security).

It is supposed that testees, basing on the proposed task, actualizing in conscious their attitude to security and means of its provision, make a choice from the offered goals, proceeding from their attractiveness in terms of efficiency of personal security achievement, thus expressing their individual ideas about personal security. The results are presented in Table 2 .

Table 2 -
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The strategy of mobile security, determined by life goals “to be mobile and self-reliant, to be independent of conditions of life and permanent social environment”, is preferable for 31% of respondents and is on the fifth place by preferability among the nine proposed. It was expected that traditional strategies of providing personal security – self-development for the purpose of becoming clever, strong, healthy, of having knowledge and skills of security provision (64%), of surrounding oneself by reliable people, who can be trusted (55%), of having well-protected housing, means of protection (35%) – would turn out to be more preferable.

At that, it is interesting that so specific strategy, which in ordinary conscious is usually not associated with provision of security and is related in the authors’ model to the strategies of individualization, which are realised, according to authors’ data, by the minority of people, turned out to be fairly preferable – almost the third of the surveyed youth think that mobility is capable of making their life more secure. At that, among those who chose mobility as an effective strategy of security provision, there is nonetheless almost a half of respondents, aimed at values of individualization (Table 3 ).

Table 3 -
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According to the authors’ theoretical model, the orientation towards mobility, if is not opposed, but at least serves as an alternative to two other groups of goals, belonging to the block of factors of microenvironment since all of them belong to different strategies of providing personal security. The authors suggested that respondents would choose one of these three groups of goals, depending on which conditions and lifestyle they consider more secure – protected housing (an adaptation strategy), reliable social surrounding (a socialisation strategy) or mobility (an individualization strategy). At that, the method gave an opportunity of choosing several goals, as a result of which the authors obtained the whole variety of combinations of strategies – which means that in the representations of testees about security, the mobility strategy can be successfully combined with other strategies of security provision. The shares of respondents, having chosen different combinations of the mobility strategy with other strategies belonging to the factor of microenvironment, are given in Table 4 .

Table 4 -
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The third of the respondents (34%) chose only mobility, confirming an assumption about alternativeness of these three strategies. However, another third of respondents (35%) chose simultaneously both mobility and reliable social surrounding. Probably, in their representations these strategies do not contradict to each other, i.e. in their opinion, it is possible to be mobile and simultaneously to have reliable – and, hence, permanent – social surrounding. Another 20% consider that it is possible to combine mobile and settled security, probably, implying an ideal situation when the human being has at least several reliable places of residence, among which he can move freely. And 11% of respondents think that the maximal security is achieved when combining all three strategies, which is an ideal variant, but the problem consists in achievability of such heterogeneous goals and, correspondingly, in feasibility of such combination of strategies.

On the whole, such high preferences with respect to mobile security is hard to explain from rational positions – it is traditionally believed that security is easy to provide under steady-state conditions, especially, of personal housing. Movement, on the contrary, is accompanied by appearance of additional threats and by a reduction of security. This is, for example, confirmed by statistics of committed crimes – in Russia according to the Ministry of Internal Affairs of the Russian Federation, in January-March of 2016, only every fifth theft, robbery or plunder are connected with penetration into housing, premises or other storehouse; the majority of such crimes are committed outside. Mobile security has not stood the test of the history – mobile peoples, being once successful, have eventually disappeared or changed their lifestyle into a settled one.

In the authors’ opinion, popularity of ideas about mobility, as a strategy of security provision, among youth is connected, first of all, with broadening of understanding security in the modern world, when security started to imply not only protectability, but also wellbeing, not only material but also emotional, spiritual. In spite of the recent increase of some threats, including those connected with physical security, the human life is objectively becoming more protected from traditional threats, which is confirmed, for instance, by the lowering rate of mortality because of diseases and accidents. In subjective representations of people, threats to physical security give place to threats to, for example, economic and information security. And, if digital nomadism or freelance allow the human being not only to earn more money but also to fear less the loss of a job, this means a more effective strategy of providing economic security. The same is true for information security – frequent geographic movement, probably, facilitates obtainment of more qualitative information from different sources and thus facilitates improvement of information security. Table 5 presents data, indicating representations of the respondents about threats to security – separately for the group of those who chose mobility as a security strategy and did not choose any other strategies, and the group that did not choose the mobility strategy (it was permitted to choose several variants, but not more than five).

Table 5 -
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Data, presented in Table 5 point towards significant differences in views on threats, depending on the preference for the mobility strategy. Thus, those who preferred mobility as a strategy of providing personal security, substantially less commonly choose such wide-spread in ordinary consciousness threats as street criminality (53% versus 68% in the groups of respondents who did not choose the mobility strategy), organised crime (16% versus 36%), terrorism (46% versus 65%). At that, they noticeably more often choose such threats as “state power structures” (23% versus 10%), “official powers, acting within legal boundaries” (20% versus 13%), “corrupt officials and enforcers” (40% versus 27%). One cannot but note that the resulted picture of views on threats suggests that one of the groups compared includes law-abiding citizens, while the other does not. However, first, among the respondents, at least, there were no tried people; second, the authors obtain similar facts in other studies as well – a sufficiently large part of the Russian society, including among the youth, see a serious threat to security in those people and structures that are summoned to provide this security. Anyway, the obtained result is evidence in favour of the fact that relation to mobility as a strategy of providing security can be conditioned by certain nontrivial views on threats.

The factor of no little importance from the psychological viewpoint, which explains “mobilistic tendencies” under discussion, is “unattachment” underlying mobility – absence of attachment to something or somebody. Emotions and feelings underlie attachment, thus making an object significant and valuable. Obviously, any significant value creates apprehensions about its loss and requires protection, which increases vulnerability of the subject and prevents from achieving personal security. In many aspects, namely because of this fact, with age it becomes increasingly difficult for people to decide to change their place of residence and place of work, the circle of social contacts. To study subjective apprehensions, the authors produced a list of some negative consequences to testees and offered them to choose those that arouse the worst apprehensions. Results are presented in Table 6 according to the groups, depending on the preference for the mobility strategy.

Table 6 -
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As follows from Table 6 , among those who chose mobility there are substantially less respondents who apprehend losing friends and relatives (61% versus 82% in the group of respondents, who did not choose mobility), losing savings and property (33% versus 38%), losing reputation and connections (10% versus 15%). At the same time, those who chose mobility apprehend losing freedom of access to information much more (30% versus 19%), as well as losing confidential information (20% versus 13%). These results can be evidence of the fact that those who choose mobility are less attached to traditional values of the settled lifestyle – their housing and property, social surrounding. This confirms the authors’ assumptions on unattachment as a base of mobilistic tendencies.


Thus, summarizing the mentioned-above, let us formulate the main conclusions:

  • Mobility as a strategy of providing personal security, takes a proper place among preferences of modern youth – in the representative sampling of young people aged from 16 to 30, 31% of the surveyed think that mobility can make their life safer. At that, the third of them (10% of the whole sampling) choose mobility as a single safe strategy and do not take into account permanent protected housing and reliable social surrounding, i.e. “settled” strategies, facilitating achievement of personal security.

  • Preferences for mobile security are conditioned by the specifics of individual apprehensions and ideas about threats. The results of the research showed that those who choose mobile security point out such widely spread in ordinary consciousness threats as street and organised crimes, terrorism significantly more seldom as subjectively perceived threats. The hierarchy of apprehensions is also “shifted” from apprehensions of the majority of people – of losing relatives, property, reputation - towards apprehensions of losing democratic rights and freedoms, freedom of access to information.

  • Thus, the ideas about mobility as an effective strategy of providing security can act as a psychological factor of “mobilistic tendencies” in the post-modern society. The given results allow suggesting some type of personality in relation to personal security, widely presented among modern youth. This is a type of people, who choose mobility and self-sufficiency and are unattached to their permanent place of residence and social surrounding. They do not worry too much for their property, ruin of reputation and trusting circle of contacts; they fear street criminal and terrorists less than the majority, who choose “settled security”. They are motivated by apprehensions of losing rights and personal freedoms, losing of access to information and they attempt to secure themselves against threats – threats that are not considered as threats by the majority of people at all – by their mobile lifestyle.

Apparently, young people that belong to namely such type become nomads of postmodern, bearers of the “mobilistic traditions” that are currently spreading in the society, choosing digital nomadism, freelance and other forms of mobile and at the same time productive, active lifestyle.


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19 February 2018

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Ivanov, M., Seryy, A., & Yanitskiy, M. (2018). Mobility As Strategy Of Providing Personal Security In Postmodern Society. In I. B. Ardashkin, N. V. Martyushev, S. V. Klyagin, E. V. Barkova, A. R. Massalimova, & V. N. Syrov (Eds.), Research Paradigms Transformation in Social Sciences, vol 35. European Proceedings of Social and Behavioural Sciences (pp. 1187-1196). Future Academy.