Imagined practices and the future of personal mobility

Bergman, Noam and Schwanen, Tim (2016) Imagined practices and the future of personal mobility. In: BEHAVE 2016: 4th European Conference on Behaviour and Energy Efficiency, 8-9 September 2016, University of Coimbra, Portugal.

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We report from a project on the futures of personal mobility in the UK, in the context of sustainable mobility and the need to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from transport. This paper looks at how people, behaviour and mobility are imagined in visioning documents (forecasts, pathways, etc.) in the future up to 2050, a timeline with great emission reduction targets. We use the lens of two innovations, electric vehicles and car clubs, to consider how potential adopters/users are imagined and constructed. We find that people are imagined primarily as consumers, using the rational actor paradigm. The analysis highlights a tension and seeming dissonance between the imagined public as rational actors and more complex real behaviour. Choice-based approaches limit imagined behaviour (change) to modal choice, or even choice of vehicle purchase, thereby limiting discourse on behaviour change, rather than opening it up. Imagined future mobility in most visions is business-as-usual, with privately owned car transport dominating personal mobility, and technological innovation supplying vehicles with reduced emissions; the link between transport and economic growth is invoked to support continued high transport demand. Car club visions show less car ownership, but retain high mobility and an economic growth perspective. Our findings support the idea that some future mobility visioning is used to support the status quo, rather than explore a variety of futures, by portraying a near business-as-usual option as the only future.

Item Type: Conference or Workshop Item (Paper)
Schools and Departments: University of Sussex Business School > SPRU - Science Policy Research Unit
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Depositing User: Lucy Macpherson
Date Deposited: 07 Oct 2016 10:37
Last Modified: 30 Mar 2017 15:45

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