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Understanding im|mobility: car parking as a social practice

Authors: Karol Kurnicki*, University of Warwick
Topics: Social Theory, Urban Geography, Transportation Geography
Keywords: parking, practice, im|mobility
Session Type: Paper
Presentation File: No File Uploaded

The presentation is based on the research on car parking in cities. It analyses parking as a social practice in the context of everyday im|mobility and urban infrastructure. Part of the project looks at the relationships that are formed between drivers and cars, cars in urban environment as well as drivers and their surroundings.

Car parking has been largely overlooked in the discourse on automobilty. The analyses of cars as objects that organize cities, people’s lives and their relations with the environment consider cars mainly as moving objects that provide flexible mobility and require systems to keep them in motion. I will argue that this picture is incomplete without the understanding of practices that are oriented towards immobility. Therefore, in my presentation, I will talk about car parking as a meaning-making and order-producing social practice that engages people and material elements and – on a larger scale – translates into the construction of carscapes.

Drawing on interviews with drivers and observations, I will reflect on how car parking is contributing to specific modalities of car-human relationship that make subjectivities and materials variable. For instance, think about how you can be a good driver but a bad “parker” or how a car turns from an agile and flexible vehicle into a bulky and problematic object at the end of every journey. I will also argue that looking at im|mobilities from the perspective of social practices can be productive for understanding connections between action, materiality and wider systems, such as urban infrastructures.

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