Household Sustainability

Household Sustainability

Challenges and Dilemmas in Everyday Life

Chris Gibson, Carol Farbotko, Nicholas Gill, Lesley Head and Gordon Waitt

The authors engage critically, and constructively, with the proposition that households are a key scale of action on climate change. They confront dilemmas of practice and circumstance, and cultural norms of lifestyle and consumerism that are linked to troublesome environmental problems – and question whether they can be easily unsettled. The work also illuminates the informal and often unheralded work by households – frequently the poorest – in reducing their environmental burden. This important book is critical to understanding both the barriers to household sustainability and the ‘unsung’ sustainability work carried out by householders.

Chapter 10: Driving cars

Chris Gibson, Carol Farbotko, Nicholas Gill, Lesley Head and Gordon Waitt

Subjects: economics and finance, environmental economics, environment, climate change, environmental economics, environmental sociology


In 2011 over 60 million new passenger cars were produced, around 165 000 new cars every day (OICA 2012). With the exception of 2009, due to the global financial crisis, the total number of cars produced globally each year has continued to grow. More people now than ever before are driving cars to move from place to place. But car-driving is more than moving from points ‘A’ to ‘B’. For many people, car-driving is regarded as a right, an integral component of contemporary citizenship (Cresswell 2006). Car-driving is framed as progressive, efficient and modern, as well as offering social status, convenience, comfort, safety and freedom (see Featherstone et al. 2004). A further complication is the role car-driving plays in a fragmented social life across extensive physical distances, requiring juggling and managing a personal timetable (Urry 2004). Cities are commonly reliant upon and designed around car mobility. Car-driving has facilitated spatial reconfigura- tion of urban form including suburban growth and dormitory villages, and physical separation and distancing of schools, homes, work, leisure sites and families.

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