9th Conference European Sociological Association

RN12 Environment and Society

2009-09-03 15:30:00 2009-09-03 17:00:00 Thursday, 3 September 15:30 - 17:00 Environment Attitudes and Values Building I, Auditório J.J. Laginha

Alternatives to individual car travel: an environmental attitude?

In view of the three major environmental issues ? pollution, greenhouse gas emissions and an ever-waning supply of fossil fuels ? we are today faced with an imperative to change our habits. Among these habits, the use of the automobile is being called into question. These addiction to the automobile, however, will not be an easy one from which to break free.
In our PhD research, we chose to focus on individuals whose modal uses differed from this automobile norm. The research conducted in France aim to understand how new forms of mobility could be appropriated by individuals. These alternatives to individual car travel were called ?altermobilities?. Three of them were particularly focused on: carpooling, bicycling and public transportation. The appropriation of these means of transport was analysed through a qualitative method based on life cycle interviews. Interviewers were chosen according to their current modal use to commute.
The first goal of this paper is to shed light on some of the mechanisms that will allow us to liberate ourselves ? even partially ? from our reliance on the automobile. The life cycle method allows to build biographic paths of ?altermobile? people. Four types of processes appear, leading to altermobile habits. Three of them shows that altermobility appears after a change in the modal habits, linked to constraint, opportunity or involvement. Nevertheless, the most unexpected result was that several alternative habits had been rooted for a long time in people life.
The second goal is to call into question the role played by environmental consciousness through the processes, particularly through changing processes. What is the meaning people give to their mobility behaviours? Do they consider them as environmental involvement or not? Many attitudes could be identified in fact. The link between environmental awareness and altermobile habit seems to be neither obvious nor mechanical.