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Reconstituting Automobility: The Influence of Non-Commercial Carsharing on the Meanings of Automobility and the Car

Luca Nitschke ()
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Luca Nitschke: Mobil.LAB Doctoral Research Group, Chair of Urban Structure and Transport Planning, TUM Department of Civil, Geo and Environmental Engineering, Technical University of Munich, 80333 Munich, Germany

Sustainability, 2020, vol. 12, issue 17, 1-20

Abstract: Automobility has long been understood as the normal and hegemonic way of moving and even without considering a global pandemic and the imperative of social distancing, disruptive change in everyday automobility seems far away. Based on 34 interviews with members of carsharing associations and private carsharing arrangements, this article argues that non-commercial carsharing, a self-organized form of carsharing, poses a twofold challenge to the hegemonic meanings of automobility on the level of everyday practice. First, the car’s role as status symbol is fading and overridden as an object of utility that is only used when absolutely necessary and mostly for leisure purposes. Second, the car is losing its position as the realization of individual freedom and the coercive aspects of the car and automobility become strongly present amongst non-commercial carsharers. Thereby, automobility emerges as an ambivalent issue and becomes perceived as means of liberation and means of domination simultaneously. By working with and against automobility’s hegemonic meanings on the level of everyday practice, non-commercial carsharing is changing the system of automobility from within and bears the potential for substantially altering the reproduction of the system of automobility.

Keywords: automobility; mobility transition; carsharing; everyday life; change; automobile subject (search for similar items in EconPapers)
JEL-codes: O13 Q Q0 Q2 Q3 Q5 Q56 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2020
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