My research focuses on how people’s understanding of their belonging in a given space impacts their mobility. Using relational approaches, I seek to understand how individuals perceive elements of the spaces around them, and how these perceptions impact whether they stay, go, move through, or avoid places. I employ qualitative approaches and GIS to understand and interpret how individual and collective perspective on space impacts movement.

Additionally, I have core interests in the relationship between housing and living – where do people live, why do these (and not other) housing opportunities exist, and how do housing opportunities enable or limit social, physical, and economic mobility.

Research Themes

Immobility, Staying, or Being Stuck

How does feeling stuck in a place manifest? How is this different than choosing to stay? What elements of environmental awareness inform it? How do different qualities of space “trap” a person? How do people make sense of the forces that enable or limit their mobility?


What elements of public space define them as only for some? How could a public space – a street, sidewalk, or park – actively include diverse bodies, mobilities, and presentations? How do allergies and intolerances manifest and restrict mobility in individual urban landscapes? What governs where people go and avoid due to dietary restrictions or physical responses?

Ongoing projects

Project: Gender Mobility

Guiding question: What makes a street “gender inclusive?” What elements of streets contribute to feelings of inclusion for travelers of different gender identities and presentation?


Tisch College Community Research Center Grant: Gender Fair Mobility: Closing the Gender Data Gap Towards an Equitable Urban Redevelopment

Project: Food Allergy Landscapes

Guiding question: How do food allergies shape a particular landscape of urban and social spaces for food-allergic people, their family and friends? Can urban areas be food allergy-inclusive spaces?


Shakespeare, R. M. (2022) Dining Out with Allergies: Examining Boston’s Allergy-Friendly Restaurant Landscape, The Geographical Bulletin, 63(1): 5-16.

Project: Middle Income Renters

Guiding question: How do changing housing costs and neighborhood change impact middle-income renter’s residential decisions and where they live?


NSF Doctoral Dissertation Research Improvement Grant: Housing Costs and the Residential Mobility of Middle-Income Renters

Publications & Presentations

Rebecca Marie Shakespeare (2020) Staying in place: narratives of middle-income renter immobility in New York City, Housing Studies, DOI: 10.1080/02673037.2020.1819968 (Author Copy)

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“Everything around me has skyrocketed”: Using qualitative GIS to understand middle-income renters’ perceptions of housing price, neighborhood change, and (im)mobility in New York City (Dissertation)