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Children--automobility's immobilized others?

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Within the social science literature on the so-called modernity-mobility nexus, children, women, the elderly, poor people and the disabled are described as the immobilized 'others' of automobility. They are seen as powerless victims of the hegemony of the car, of the unequally distributed access to mobility and of the unequally distributed negative consequences of an increasingly faster and wider ranging automobility. The present paper focuses on children and questions whether there is any empirical support for this rather rigid theoretically driven construction of children's identity. With this objective, eight in-depth interviews with children about their perception of themselves as travellers were conducted. The children saw themselves as both suffering and benefiting from automobility, as well as being both immobilized and mobilized. Thus, children are not necessarily automobility's others in the sense of a suffering, victimized or immobilized other altogether; they are also coping and partaking members of the automobile society. This is an important conclusion, since no matter how well meaning the intentions of the adult community, children might benefit more from being perceived as active members of society--with rights equal to those of adults as participants in the further development of the automobile society--than of being restricted to the role of powerless, patronized victims, dependent on the grace of others.

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: Department of Environment, Technology, and Soc;''ial Studies Roskilde University Roskilde Denmark

Publication date: September 1, 2004

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