Claim-making in transport & social exclusion research: is there a right to drive and pollute?

Giulio Mattioli

Research output: Contribution to conferenceAbstract


High and increasing levels of mobility and car dependence are among the main determinants of the surge in transport-related greenhouse gases emissions worldwide. At the same time, these very same trends have led scholars and policy-makers to focus on the social exclusion of “transport disadvantaged” sectors of society – often identified as those who are less mobile and/or do not own cars and are thus unable to participate “normally” in a mobile society. While scholars in this field of research have produced a remarkable amount of empirical evidence on unequal patterns of transport behaviour, they have however generally avoided to make explicit claims about distributive justice. In this paper, I argue that it is useful to analyse the research literature on transport & social exclusion in a critical way, distinguishing between transport inequality (as mere description) and injustice (implying a normative evaluation of “how things should be”). Drawing on a framework put forward by Gordon Walker in the field of environmental justice, I discuss some forms of claim-making that are current in the transport disadvantage literature, trying to make explicit their distributive justice implications. I then draw on data from the German and British National Travel Surveys to illustrate how different notions of “transport justice” correspond to very different environmental outcomes: while assuming that the car as such is an indispensable tool for social inclusion directly leads to environmentally unfriendly resolutions, minimum standards of accessibility seem to provide more scope for reconciling environmental and social concerns in the field of transport
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages1
Publication statusPublished - 2012
EventLancaster Sociology Summer Conference 2012 - Department of Sociology, Lancaster University, Lancaster, United Kingdom
Duration: 2 Jul 20123 Jul 2012


ConferenceLancaster Sociology Summer Conference 2012
Country/TerritoryUnited Kingdom


  • sustainable transport
  • environmental justice
  • transport and social exclusion
  • transport disadvantage
  • intergenerational equity
  • mobility
  • sustainability
  • car


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