Travel Socialisation: a Social Theory of Travel Mode Behaviour
H Baslington, ITS, University of Leeds, UK
The aim of this paper is to present a social theory of travel mode behaviour,'travel socialisation'and discuss the findings from empirical research which led to formulation. A central theme is childhood determinants of future travel behaviour.
Reducing car use has health and environmental imperatives. The negative effects of over reliance on car transportation may be local national and international. They may be direct or indirect and follow the lifecycle of vehicles: at production, usage and disposal. A central theme of this paper is childhood determinants of future travel behaviour. The aim is to present the author's 'travel socialisation' social theory of travel mode behaviour and discuss the findings from empirical research which led to formulation. It is based on a PhD project which investigated the cultural determinants of childrens' travel. The research design was 'mixed methods' involving a combination of questionnaires, focus groups and interviews and included samples of 9 to 11 year old children and parents. Key questions and themes were harmonised across research instruments.
Travel socialisation theory is concerned with the effects of social institutions. It states that children learn about travel modes in the same way as other aspects of culture through the agents of socialisation: the family, school, the media and peer groups. The role of each agent is discussed. The new perspective challenges the traditional orthodoxy in transport studies which conceptualises people as independents in thought and action. A theoretical implication of 'travel socialisation' is that our thinking and attitudes towards transport modes are embedded in childhood. Because the definition of a problem has important implications for tackling it an objective is to discuss the benefits of a different approach in terms of policy implications for achieving sustainable transport. This raises issues which provide a forum for debate. A conclusion of the author is that 'car dependency' should be viewed as a social problem because there are social causes as well as social costs to consider which impact on everyone. Therefore it should be tackled from a social policy rather than just a 'travel demand' management approach.
The PhD project was undertaken by Hazel Baslington at the University of Leeds. It was funded by the EPSRC, Doctoral Training Account, 2001 as a transport and health project.
Association for European Transport