Moving beyond physical mobility: blogging about cycling and urban transport policy

Doctoral thesis English OPEN
Golbuff, Laura
  • Subject: HE

It is often acknowledged that movement exists in multiple, interdependent forms and that we live in\ud an Information Age. However, mobilities perspectives on contemporary cycling tend to neglect the\ud a) interconnections between transport (physical mobility of people and objects) and communication\ud (mobility of symbolic information) b) paradigmatic shifts in modernity that affect how and why we\ud communicate about transport. This thesis responds to such neglect. Firstly, it places urban cycling\ud in an internet context by examining practices and perceptions of policy blogging, asking why do\ud individuals blog about cycling-related transport policy and to what effect? Secondly, it analyses the\ud answers to these questions through the theoretical lens of the risk society and reflexive\ud modernisation theses. Empirical data is the result of 46 semi-structured interviews with bloggers\ud and expert system representatives, mostly in London, New York and Paris.\ud Blogging about cycling-related transport policy is shown to be an individualised response to the\ud perceived failings of expert systems, as well as in Giddens’ words, a ‘reflexive project of the self’.\ud Citizens who may otherwise only be policy subjects or passive consumers of transport, emerge as\ud policy, media and civil society actors by virtue of their ability to publish information, which forms the\ud basis of social relations. Through blogging, they produce and mobilise knowledge. Knowledge\ud claims mediated by blogging interact with expert systems responsible for transport, which in turn\ud adapt; routine institutional practices evolve; a new order emerges; blogging makes a difference.\ud That difference is however limited, not least because the public remains reliant on expert systems.\ud Ultimately, despite the obvious importance of physical mobility to cycling, this thesis seeks to move\ud beyond it. Information and communication technologies have radically altered how we -\ud researchers, the public, expert system representatives - communicate about and understand\ud cycling, and as such, this project argues for a renewed emphasis on mobilities in a genuinely plural\ud sense of the word as being about more than physically moving from A to B.
  • References (141)
    141 references, page 1 of 15

    6.3 Blogging and the Mobilities of Policy Knowledge...................................................... 140 Blogging and the Lines of Policy Movement from A to B............................................140 Figure 2. The As, Bs and lines of movement discussed in this chapter. ....................142 Policy Tourism and Counteracting Policy Immobilities................................................ 142 Legitimating Policy Knowledge................................................................................... 144 Supplying Policy Knowledge and Fuelling Reflexive and Imaginative Mobilities........146 Visualising Policy....................................................................................................... 147 Leveraging Policy....................................................................................................... 148 Section Summary: Blogging and the Mobilities of Policy Knowledge.........................150

    6.4 Chapter Conclusions: Blogging and the Production and Mobilisation of Policy

    Knowledge...................................................................................................................... 150 London: Blogging Changing the Nature of Civil Society and Its Actors.......................184 Figure 5: 'Old media'.................................................................................................. 185 Figure 6: 'This is how it works now'............................................................................ 186 Section Summary: Blogging Making a Difference to Cycling's Civil Society...............189

    7.4 Chapter Conclusions: New Order: Interaction, Adaptation and the Making of Difference

    Chapter 8: Plus Ça Change: Reliance and the Fallibilities of Policy Blogging.....................191 8.1 Not Paying Attention to Blogs .................................................................................. 191 Section Summary: Not Paying Attention to Blogs ...................................................... 193 8.2 Blogging as Ineffective.............................................................................................. 194 Section Summary: Blogging as Ineffective................................................................. 198 8.3 Blogging as Abusive................................................................................................. 199 Section Summary: Blogging as Abusive..................................................................... 203 8.4 Reliance on Expert Systems and Expert Knowledge................................................ 203 Section Summary: Reliance on Expert Systems and Expert Knowledge....................209 8.5 Chapter Conclusions: Plus Ça Change: Reliance and the Fallibilities of Policy Blogging.......................................................................................................................... 209

    Chapter 9: Conclusions....................................................................................................... 211 9.1 Key Themes.............................................................................................................. 211 Moving Beyond Cycling's Physical Mobility................................................................ 211 Computer-Mediated Knowledge and Communication................................................212 Transport and its Risks: the Subject of Public Debate in Late Modernity....................214 9.2 Project Limitations and Recommended Directions for Future Research...................215 Data: Computer-Mediated Communication about Cycling.......................................... 216 'Boosterism' of Cycling-Related Transport Policy....................................................... 218 Cycling's Inter-Urban Relations.................................................................................. 219

    Appendix A: Examples of Cycling-Related Transport Policy Blogs .....................................221

    blog content using various software.................................................................................... 227

    Appendix C: Example Interview Schedules......................................................................... 233 Gajjala, G., 2008. Question Two: How Can Researchers Make Sense of the Issues Involved in Collecting and Interpreting Online and Offline Data?, in: Markham, A., Baym, N.K. (Eds.), Internet Inquiry: Conversations About Method. SAGE Publications, Los Angeles, 61-68.

    Gane, N., 2004. The Future of Social Theory, Bloomsbury Academic, London; New York.

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