WHO’S DRIVING? WHO’S DRIVEN?
Exploring shared and automated mobilities
Prof. Dr. Dominic Villeneuve (Université Laval and former Coordinator of the mobil.LAB)
Vehicles of resistance?–Non-commercial car sharing and the socio-ecological mobility transition.
Mobility is a core element of capitalist societies in which mobilities of humans, goods, data and ideas are keeping the process of capitalist expansion and accumulation afloat. However, the constant growth of mobilities, driven by a logic of faster, further and more, increasingly impairs the natural and social environment through a lack of livable space, air pollution, long-distance commuting and the escalating climate and ecological crisis. Therefore, a transition towards more social and ecological practices of mobility is urgently necessary.My dissertation is about a part of this transition in relation to the mobility of people and investigates how practices of non-commercial carsharing are influencing local everyday mobility. I argue that practices of non-commercial carsharing are reconstituting hegemonic practices of automobility through a process of everyday resistance and thereby challenge capitalist mobilities in the realm of everyday life. Non-commercial carsharing reconstitutes practices of automobility along four aspects: 1) Redefine the meaning of the car and automobility 2) Re-embed automobility into its environmental context, 3) Foster sociality, and 4) Change ownership relations.
Overall these four aspects result in reducing car usage, and move mobility away from the hegemony of automobility and private car ownership. Through collectively altering the reproduction of hegemonic practices of automobility in a process of everyday resistance, non-commercial carsharing is challenging capitalist mobilities in the realm of everyday life. Thereby, non-commercial carsharing shows a potential pathway for a socio-ecological just and post-capitalist mobility transition.
Automated driving and politics of displacement
Automated driving has become a bone of contention for mobility governance between established actors (car-industry and public sector) and new actors (ICT companies). This clash of different technological and organizational cultures creates uncertainty and ambivalence regarding the implementation of automated driving. Thus, new courses of action are required from the policy making side that might diverge from the existing policy making routines. Currently, actors find themselves in an uncertain balancing game of interests revolving around promises of disruptive innovation on the one hand and keeping things smooth on the other hand. In this light, this talk discusses policy making strategies that actors develop to cope with the uncertainty that automated driving brings about. Drawing on empirical work in Munich and in Stuttgart, the talk briefly explains how actors engage in politics of displacement by displacing automated driving across different policy making settings and issues. These displacements do not result in the implementation of automated driving in cities per se, as it is too complex and difficult to plan for at the moment. Instead, they provide new perspectives for rethinking existing urban mobility issues, such as urbanization, lack of space and accessibility anew through the promotion of public transport and mobility services. In other words, automated driving becomes a proxy for legitimizing other mobility policies.
Taxi driving in Mumbai: Disruption or business as usual?
The introduction of platform-based mobility services in cities of South Asia (e.g. Uber) not only changed the mobility systems of these cities,but also created a new precarious field of employment.My dissertation deals with the questions how the new business model and the algorithms of the platforms change practices and the profession of taxi driving, and whether and how drivers accept or resist these changes.To investigate these questions, I explore everyday lives and biographies of Uber drivers as well as drivers of conventional black-and-yellow taxis (Kaali Peelis). The Uber model is predominantly understood as a global model that is implemented in a top-down manner in cities and is “disruptive” to traditional taxis. However, when taxi driving is understood from the operators’ perspective, it becomes visible that taxi driving is deeply embedded in the urban fabric and history of Mumbai. Both “old“ and “new” forms of taxi driving are intimately connected with social and political dynamics that characterize the city, and function on similar networks of people and places.Furthermore, taxi operations have been dominated by networks of migrants to the city for decades and continue to do so in times of the digital mobility platforms.I argue that the investigation of taxi driving allows comprehending Mumbai’s pathway of urban development and its contestations from a different vantage point.