“It’s not risky, it’s just nasty.” (De)legitimising (public) transport practices during the pandemic

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From each their perspective, Freudendal-Pedersen (2009) and Lindegaard (2012) have both argued that the current system of automobility is co-constituted by different forms of discursive legitimation work. For instance, Freudendal-Pedersen (2009) observes that people utilise “structural stories” to rationalise and justify their everyday mobilities practices.

During the COVID19 pandemic, passenger numbers in public transport have dropped dramatically while sales of private cars have increased. Different rapports and surveys have pointed out that this is partly due to an increased concern about risk of contagion in tight public spaces, and, therefore, it could seem as if ‘risk of contagion’ has come to represent yet another readily available structural story for people to use when they justify why they do not use public transport.

This paper draws on focus group data to do a fine-grained analysis of how ‘risk of contagion’ is oriented to and negotiated by various categories of movers when they attempt to legitimise their own transportation practices. Through this study, I aim to contribute with knowledge about if and how ‘risk of contagion’ stabilises or destabilises the current, environmentally harmful system of automobility.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusIn preparation - 2023

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