Handbook on Transport and Development
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Handbook on Transport and Development

Edited by Robin Hickman, Moshe Givoni, David Bonilla and David Banister

This Handbook provides an extensive overview of the relationships between transport and development. With 45 chapters from leading international authors, the book is organised in three main parts: urban structure and travel; transport and spatial impacts; and wider dimensions in transport and development. The chapters each present commentary on key issues within these themes, presenting the debate on the impacts of urban structure on travel, the impacts of transport investment on development, and social and cultural change on travel. A multitude of angles are considered – leaving the reader with a comprehensive and critical understanding of the field.
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Chapter 35: Parents, children and automobility: trends, challenges and opportunities

Robyn Dowling


‘Automobility’ is a term increasingly used to describe the travel patterns of city inhabitants in many parts of the world. As defined by scholarship within sociology and cultural studies, automobility refers to the ways in which patterns of sociability, propensities for ever-increasing personal travel, city infrastructures and economic organisations have been and are propelled by the system that pivots around the private motor vehicle (Sheller and Urry, 2007; Urry, 2004; Lucas et al., 2011). In many countries across the world, the petroleum-fuelled private car rules the spaces and rhythms of everyday life and is supported by a range of institutions and infrastructures, including transport networks like highways, traffic rules and planning frameworks (see summary in Goodwin, 2010). Automobility is particularly appropriate to the description and understanding of the contemporary travel of urban families in the developed world. Parents’ and children’s movements around the city are predominantly by car, and the private automobile is becoming a key tool in contemporary parenting cultures and identities. The notion of automobility hence provides the societal and intellectual scaffolding for this chapter. The chapter argues that contemporary familial travel both reproduces and challenges the hold of the automobile – and its attendant physical, social and intellectual infrastructures – in everyday life. The chapter begins with a discussion of the key frameworks through which familial automobility can be comprehended: feminism and cultural studies.

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