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    Routine journeys, complex networks: media-centrism, the dispositif of road safety, and practices of commuting by car in everyday Ireland


    Boyle, Patrick (2016) Routine journeys, complex networks: media-centrism, the dispositif of road safety, and practices of commuting by car in everyday Ireland. PhD thesis, National University of Ireland Maynooth.

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    Abstract

    Road safety is regarded as one of the most significant public health issues in the world. In Ireland, strategies for the mitigation of the effects of road traffic accidents appear in policy documents such as the Road Safety Strategy which is then disseminated via various media outlets. Such an approach highlights the centrality of mediation in the social acceptance of policy initiatives, relying on an assumption of media-centricity – that the mainstream media are central to social formation. This thesis problematizes this assumption. Drawing together the disparate elements of a dispositif of road safety in the under-researched Irish setting, this study explores the complex range of actors implicated in the mediation of policy. It examines the mediated policy context of the worst road accident in Irish history, as well as the introduction of a network of speed cameras, to explore how policy initiatives output in print media reports, as well as online discussion. Through analysis of car-commuters’ focus group interactions, it also examines the ways in which mediated policy understandings are immanent and circulate in how car-commuters talk about their commuting practices. The study highlights how mediated policy actions attempt to curb the unfettered expression of car-based freedoms through the construction of individual responsibility as the ultimate expression of road safety. However, commuters’ freedoms are also shaped and constrained by responsibilities in terms of work, study, and family, as well as by the types of social action automobility makes conceivable, facilitates, and disrupts. In addition, the research shows that while rational choices and rationality are a dominant framework within policy contexts, mediation about road safety is actually enmeshed in multiple rationalities that surface as circumstances require. Exploration of driving practices reveals how commuters are nodes in their own networks of rationalities around automobility that adhere and disjoin to varying degrees with the concerns of media representation. The study also highlights the mainstream media consensus constructed around speed cameras, even though forms of resistance to this consensus manifest, especially online. Commuters’ car-based activities can often also be resistant to discourses of road safety. Yet commuters fight to defend the space and time spent on forms of work performed in the car that reinforce the exigencies of neoliberalism. Overall, the thesis finds that media are but one of the many sets of actors that constitute the complex networks of neoliberal automobility in Ireland.

    Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
    Keywords: Routine journeys; complex networks; media-centrism; dispositif; road safety; practices of commuting; car; Ireland;
    Academic Unit: Faculty of Arts,Celtic Studies and Philosophy > School of English, Media & Theatre Studies > Media Studies
    Item ID: 7122
    Depositing User: IR eTheses
    Date Deposited: 07 Jun 2016 16:19
    URI:

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