Becoming an airline passenger: Body, luggage, and documents

Mor Shilon, Ronen Shamir*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This paper deploys a relational-material approach for tracing the assembly of passengers as they move through airports and use its series of passage points. While many studies analyse airport mobility and passengers' experiences, few do so with the question of subjectivity as their main theoretical focus. Rather than treating subjectivity as an epiphenomenon or alternatively as a myriad of spatio-sensual experiences, we treat the subjectivity of airline passengers as a product and an achievement: a work of assembly which requires the skilful coordination of body, luggage, and documents. We introduce the notion of 'mobility capital' as a vital ingredient in this process of active assembly: learnt variations and improvisations while interacting with the architecture of airports and with the materially embedded regulation of civil aviation account for the process of acquiring the subjectivity of airline passengers and for the variance among them.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)246-270
Number of pages25
Issue number3
StatePublished - 2016


  • Actor-network theory
  • Airports
  • Globalisation
  • Identity
  • Mobility


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