‘I have to know where I can go’: mundane mobilities and everyday toilet access for people living with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)

‘I have to know where I can go’: mundane mobilities and everyday public toilet access for people living with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)


Author/s: Lauren White

File: Go to resource 

Publication date: 2021


‘Public’ toilets are crucial to our social and geographical landscape, and access to them has become prominent in recent public and academic debates. Drawing on a qualitative study based on 25 daily diaries and follow-up interviews with people living with the common health condition irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), this paper explores toilet access through the lens of mundane mobilities. Planning journeys, mapping toilets, a reliance on commercial toilets and intersections with travel were key themes emerging from the study.

Through the lease of IBS, we see how navigations of seemingly everyday mobilities are problematised through the bodily precarity of unpredictable symptoms intertwined with the availability, comfort and knowledge of ‘public’ toilets. This paper works at demonstrating the interdependency between everyday mobilities and toilet access. IBS offers a particularly useful insight in which the common but often hidden nature of the condition demonstrates the multiplicities of ‘public’ toilet access and how the unpredictability of access meets with, and is embodied, by those with the condition.

This paper contributes to interdisciplinary toilet scholarship by engaging in mundane and embodied geographies and centralises toilets as a site of connection for those studying everyday mobilities.