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How Mobility Systems Produce Inequality: Making Mobile Subject Types on the Bangkok Sky Train

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This paper explores a crucial aspect of sustainable mobility: the production of social inequality in mobility systems. The approach taken is to focus on how, as new transit infrastructures create alternative ways of travelling into and accessing the city, they create changed conditions for the formation of subject identities. New types of travellers are realized in the newly engineered spaces of mobility. The paper argues that this focus on emergent mobile subject types can be useful in investigating the social inequalities that can result from the introduction of new infrastructures. This approach is illustrated in a case study of one urban transit system: the BTS Sky Train, Bangkok, Thailand. The analysis reveals the subtle hegemony of an elite mobility system that slowly becomes not only the norm but increasingly the desired mode of mobility, emphasizing how mobile elites are constructed and how social inequality is materially produced.

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: May 29, 2008

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  • Built Environment is published quarterly in March, June, September and December. With an emphasis on crossing disciplinary boundaries and providing global perspective, each issue focuses on a single subject of contemporary interest to practitioners, academics and students working in a wide range of disciplines. Issues are guest-edited by established international experts who not only commission contributions, but also oversee the peer-reviewing process in collaboration with the Editors.

    Subject areas include: architecture; conservation; economic development; environmental planning; health; housing; regeneration; social issues; spatial planning; sustainability; urban design; and transport. All issues include reviews of recent publications.

    The journal is abstracted in Geo Abstracts, Sage Urban Studies Abstracts, and Journal of Planning Literature, and is indexed in the Avery Index to Architectural Publications.

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