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Subject in Travel Studies

Subjective perspectives in travel and mobility studies were the focus of a workshop at October, 7th, 2008. This workshop was the closing event of the project 'Choice of residential location, the built environment and transport in the context of lifestyle and life situation' (funded by the DFG). The ca 30 participants formed an interdisciplinary round of geographers, spatial and transport planners, sociologists, psychologists, economists and cultural scientists.

In the first presentation Konrad Götz (ISOE, Frankfurt/Main) highlighted the importance of qualitative, singular-case studies on mobility. Georg Wilke (Wuppertal-Institut) presented a milieus-based approach to assess market potentials of CarSharing. Darja Reuschke (TU Dortmund) discussed the relevance of spatial and transport infrastructure related accessibility for residential location decisions of weekly commuters ('shuttles') at their secondary residences. Joachim Scheiner (TU Dortmund) presented linear structural equation models aiming to explain travel mode choice by life situation, lifestyle, residential location preferences and the built environment. The same methodological framework was used by Reinhard Hössinger (Universität für Bodenkultur, Wien) who discussed the changeability of attitudes towards transport policy in various groups of actors. From here, the workshop moved from a primarily social scientific level to a more policy-oriented perspective. Ramon Briegel (Universität Kassel) presented an action-theoretical simulation model of leisure travel. Martin Schiefelbusch (nexus Institut, Berlin) introduced an assessment methodology for transport systems based on emotional travel experience.

Christian Holz-Rau (TU Dortmund), from his perspective, summarised key results and challenges for transport planning as well as for urban research and travel studies in his concluding comment.

The workshop was explicitly announced as a discussion forum, and this was appreciated by the participants. The discussion made clear that subject-oriented perspectives are a marginal phenomenon in travel and mobility studies - a field which is strongly dominated by technical and economic traditions. However, the contributions showed that some important steps towards an improved understanding of subjective motives of action, action rationales and preferences have already been undertaken, as well as some steps that aim at gaining deeper insight into the social embedding of travel behaviour.

The workshop results will shortly be published in English as a book in the 'Blaue Reihe Verkehr'.


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Prof. Dr. Joachim Scheiner
Tel.: 0231 755-4822

Further information:

DFG-Projekt "Choice of residential location, the built environment and transport in the context of lifestyle and life situation"