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Theorizing Mobility Transitions

An Interdisciplinary Conversation

Cristina Temenos, Anna Nikolaeva, Tim Schwanen, Tim Cresswell, Frans Sengers, Matt Watson and Mimi Sheller

Despite a surge of multidisciplinary interest in transition studies on low-carbon mobilities, there has been little evaluation of the current state of the field, and the contributions of different approaches such as the multi-level perspective (MLP), theories of practice, or the new mobilities paradigm. As a step in this direction, this contribution brings together scholars representing different theoretical perspectives and disciplinary fields in order to discuss processes and uneven geographies of mobility transitions as they are currently theorized. First, we reflect upon the role of geographers and other social scientists in envisioning, enabling, and criticizing mobility transitions. Second, we discuss how different theoretical approaches can develop mobility transitions scholarship. Finally, we highlight emerging issues in mobility transitions research.

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Daniel Newman, Peter Wells, Paul Nieuwenhuis, Ceri Donovan and Huw Davies

This article considers electric cars as socio-technical experiments in meeting mobility requirements. There have been numerous trials and government incentives to promote such vehicles, but with a notable lack of success. The article thus seeks to address an urgent need to understand such “transition failure,” which may ultimately impact upon how progress is measured in sociotechnical transitions. Presenting results from a recent research project, it is suggested that shared usage models hold greater potential for achieving sustainable personal mobility. It is concluded, however, that multiple niche experiments present a highly complex situation in which cumulative learning is problematic.