The Mobility Preferences of Generation Y: Transitioning Towards a Sustainable Transport System?
The 21st Century is on the move. The automobile is one of late modernity’s most highly recognisable and contested artefacts and the hegemonic class of contemporary everyday mobility in most industrialised countries. This has led to the design of socio-technical mobility systems which support and reinforce automobile dependency, often to the detriment of alternative transport modes and under the assumption of continued growth in automobility. However, a counter narrative has emerged. Contesting the current automobility paradigm are reported variations to generation Y mobilities when compared to older generations. Generation Y is less likely to learn to drive and those with a driver’s licence are driving less and are less likely to own a vehicle. Yet while a pattern of decreasing youth licensing has been reported in Sweden, Norway, Great Britain, Canada, Japan, South Korea and Germany, little is known about the drivers of this change, and what it could mean for future transport demands. To date, there has been little theoretical examination of this phenomenon. Drawing from socio-technical transitions and the Multi-Level Perspective (MLP), this paper addresses this gap. Furthermore, it advances explorations of cultural and socio-spatial niches which have received less attention within the MLP literature. Perspectives from environmental sociology frame the discussion and are used to investigate whether the changes to generation Y mobilities are, in fact, the start of a socio-technical transition, which could replace the current transport regime. The evidence suggests that generation Y mobility trends represent a crack in the current regime of automobility, which may be sustained in the long-term.
Conference: Norwich Conference on Earth System Governance, Norwich, United Kingdom
Keywords: Mobilities; generation Y; transport systems; sustainability; transition theory; socio-technical perspective
Research Type: Conference or Workshop Item (Paper)