What is Automobility?
Automobility is a concept based on two fundamental ideas. Autonomy is the self-directing or self-governing freedom of an individual. Mobility is the movement or travel of an individual.
Therefore, automobility is the independent, self-governing movement of an individual. The concept sounds valid and many people would believe it to be so, however, after a more detailed look automobility may not be as mobile or self-regulating as first thought.
Automobility has several factions that claim to define this system of automobility (3). First is the socio-technical facet that defines automobility as the organization of modern concepts. The political definition is the regulation and practices of movement.
Others see it as the legitimization of the differences between man and machine, and man’s dominance over the machine (3). The one concept that is equivalent in all these definitions is the fact that automobility is a patterned system that creates a cohesive understanding of both autonomy and mobility (4).
Upon a closer look, it becomes obvious that this system is really a regime based on truth, power, and subjectivity (8). To understand automobility in these terms, we must define the concept of mobility. Universally it would be considered an automobile, but other modes of travel are available, such as bicycling, public transportation and taxis, and travelling by telephone and internet.
These are all modes of travel, and are all self-regulated by the individual, thus giving them all the title of automobility, however, the car is the most often associated with this concept (6).
Truth in this regime of automobility is the concept of driving the car (6). Power is the brute for of the vehicle, such as trucks and sport utility vehicles which over power most other vehicle and modes of transportation (7). Another part of power are the governmental regulations and rules that accompany the driving of a vehicle, which has created a large amount of governmental bodies to help keep the driver moving within the laws of automobility (7).
While automobility is based in an individual’s freedom of movement, it also causes more regulations to be put on the individual and thus is the power of automobility (7). Subjectivity is the last part of the regime.
The subjectivity can be a form of hierarchy or of self-monitoring. Either way, the ideas of one group or class get put on others. For example, cyclists are not considered when planning for roads and highways, thus those that drive cars, trucks, and such are putting their views and using their power.
Social stigmatisms can also be place in this part, because the subjectivity of a person who views people taking public transportation as failures can lead to incorrect assumptions (8). In any case the three facets of the regime create the concept of automobility (8).
There are four problems associated with automobility that affect the world at large. First problem is the congestion created with the number of cars and vehicles on the road and the planning of those roads being inadequate (9).
The second is the ecological and environmental effects of automobility (9). Third is the geopolitical factor that causes governments to spend money to find, store, and process the oil needed for the vehicles as well as the possibility of war to ensure the oil supply keeps coming. The last problem is the deaths and accidents that occur, but are considered a normal part of automobility (10).
The fact of the matter is that the concept automobility is virtually and completely impossible, since the concept itself requires external forces to allow it to be used. For example, roads need to be created and maintained, licensure and driver education to ensure the regulations of the roads are followed, and even walking require sidewalks (11-12).
Therefore, automobility is neither mobile nor individually self-regulated. In fact the governmental bodies created by this concept are now changing the rules and trying to alleviate or eliminate some of the problems associated with automobility (13 – 14). In any case, changes are coming and the fragility of automobility has become more obvious, and yet the concept continues.