Mapping the road ahead: understanding social factors that shape vehicle residents’ information grounds


  • Kaitlin E. Montague Rutgers University



information behaviour, information grounds, information access, ethnography, vehicle residents


Introduction. An estimated one million people currently inhabit vehicles as their primary method of housing in publicly accessible areas across the United States. Few studies have investigated this untraditionally housed population, as separate from traditional homelessness, and no other studies have been found that currently explore vehicle resident’s information behaviours. This paper offers preliminary findings from an ethnographic study that explores vehicle residents’ information practices.

Method. This work is based on four months of ethnographic research involving participant observation in Santa Cruz, California, which aimed to understand vehicle residents’ information needs and access and the ways that various factors shaped their information practices.

Analysis. Ethnographic field notes were analysed using the constant comparative method. Induction was used to identify and categorize recurring conceptualizations and phenomena.

Results. Preliminary findings build upon previous research on information grounds. Initial results indicate that marginalizing policies, and in turn, social exclusion, created vibrant environments for information grounds to develop.

Conclusion. Geographic locations and movements influence vehicle residents’ information practices. Gaining a deeper understanding of these practices inform both theoretical implications for the information behaviour field and practical implications for local and federal governments to deliver support rather than create marginalizing policies for vehicle residents.




How to Cite

Montague, K. E. (2024). Mapping the road ahead: understanding social factors that shape vehicle residents’ information grounds. Information Research an International Electronic Journal, 29(2), 427–435.