Social exclusion, vulnerable groups and driving forces : towards a social research based policy on car mobility

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Social research was, until recently, not very important in the transport and mobility domain. There was a bias towards technical studies, engineering studies and towards transport economics. Social science was essentially a fringe activity; psychology was used in traffic management, under the name "human factors", and human geography focussed on the relationship between the characteristics of urban and rural space and the production of mobility. Sociological studies, cultural studies and governance studies were scarce in the transport and mobility domains. This state of affairs changed the last 15 years. The relations between social research and transport and mobility are intensified. In the scientific world there is now an ongoing production of studies that relate social, cultural and governance perspectives to transport and mobility. There is a stock of literature on social exclusion or inclusion in transport, on travel behaviour and on driving forces for car mobility. But is the body of knowledge that did arise in these 15 years used in the design and evaluation of transport and mobility policies? It looks like this research is first and foremost an activity within the boundaries of academia. The way in which results and insights of social research are included in the design, definition and evaluation of car mobility policies is the central theme in this paper. The paper is written from a policy-maker's perspective by someone who has some 20 years of experience in the relationships between transport policies in practice and transport research results. Three domains and ten themes give an overview of the field. A summary of results of social research on car mobility shows interesting results. However, not many of these results are included in the design of national policies on car mobility. We show the state of the art and try to identify and analyse reasons for the rather difficult dissemination of results and insights from social research into national car mobility policies, with a focus on more socially inclusive and equitable policy outcomes in mind.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)96-106
Number of pages11
JournalCase Studies on Transport Policy
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2014


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