The Future of Car Culture

The Future of Car Culture

The director of Macquarie’s new science communication programme, Catherine Simpson, has teamed up with Associate Professor Robyn Dowling of the Department of Environment and Science to research current and future trends in automobility. The research has in part been prompted by recent studies which show that private car ownership, especially amongst young people, is declining internationally. Dr Simpson believes the trend reveals a fascinating transition, a ‘movement away from all the sorts of identity formation that are bound up with the car, particularly for young people, towards seeing the car as a service, a way of getting from A to B’. 

A better understanding of automobility (which is defined as the centrality of the car in everyday life) is important in addressing emissions reduction.  This is particularly so in Australia, one of the most automobile-dependent countries in the world, and the project directly addresses the goal of an environmentally sustainable Australia by providing new knowledge about what can be, or might be, sustainable. By focusing on conventional, alternative and emerging automobilities, it links cars and sustainability in unique new ways. 

Catherine and Robyn are aiming for practical applications of their research – charting current and future trends in car use might be used to support government funding and policy decisions, and Catherine is looking forward to writing a book, which will be aimed at a wider public audience, also with Robyn.  Robyn’s long-running interest in developing socio-cultural perspectives on transport merge perfectly with Catherine’s car cultures research which has produced, most recently, the first Australian cultural/media analysis of the new phenomenon of car sharing.

Written by Kirsten Pitot de la Beaujardiere - Climate Futures placed SCOM300 intern.

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