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After the Car
 
 

After the Car [Kindle Edition]

Kingsley Dennis , John Urry
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)

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Review

"Dennis and Urry show us how to do social science: how to move effortlessly between the macro and the micro,how to integrate problem spaces we once thought incommensurate, how to understand how we got to where we are and where we might be going." Journal of Sociology "Dennis and Urry exhibit a refreshing understanding of the sheer inefficiency and inconvenience of cars." Lynsey Hanley, The Guardian "One great aspect of this book is that it manages to build some possible and realistic view of the future without neglecting its unpredictability. After the Car is a very inspiring book that we would recommend to all people interested in the future of transportation systems – especially those convinced by the importance of carfree perspectives in building it." Carbusters "One of the toughest things to do is to anticipate discontinuity, to envisage a world – a life – beyond the car. The authors practice this art of the impossible in a fascinating way, opening up the social and sociological imagination for alternative paths of modernization." Ulrich Beck, University of Munich "A persuasive and readable summary of why motoring as we know it is doomed. The authors systematically chart the new technologies, oil shortages, environmental and other pressures changing the way we travel and the world we live in. If you want to know what the future might look like, this book is for you. Jeremy Clarkson is an endangered species!" Steven Joseph, Executive Director, Campaign for Better Transport "After the Car is a useful contribution to the debate about the role of the car which poses some interesting questions about its future." Tony Bosworth, Friends of the Earth

Product Description

It is difficult to imagine a world without the car, and yet that is exactly what Dennis and Urry set out to do in this provocative new book. They argue that the days of the car are numbered: powerful forces around the world are undermining the car system and will usher in a new transport system sometime in the next few decades. Specifically, the book examines how several major processes are shaping the future of how we travel, including:
• Global warming and its many global consequences
• Peaking of oil supplies
• Increased digitisation of many aspects of economic and social life
• Massive global population increases
The authors look at changes in technology, policy, economy and society, and make a convincing argument for a future where, by necessity, the present car system will be re-designed and re-engineered.

Yet the book also suggests that there are some hugely bleak dilemmas facing the twenty first century. The authors lay out what they consider to be possible ‘post-car’ future scenarios. These they describe as ‘local sustainability’, ‘regional warlordism’ and ‘digital networks of control’.

After The Car will be of great interest to planners, policy makers, social scientists, futurologists, those working in industry, as well as general readers.

Some have described the 20th Century as the century of the car. Now that century has come to a close – and things are about to change.


Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 439 KB
  • Print Length: 180 pages
  • Publisher: Polity; 1 edition (18 April 2013)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B00CGH031G
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Living In Interesting Times 15 Jun 2009
By V. Babu
Format:Paperback
There is a huge debate going on in the media at present about the need both economically and environmentally to develop a `green' or low carbon economy. This is not at all easy! What this book does is set out what is needed in terms of a low carbon transport system and how all sorts of different elements have to develop and get linked in together. Where this book impressed me is in its employment of complex systems to view the problem. We have to consider that our global car economy has been a `locked-in' system for over a century. And it's a system that is supported by huge vested interests...so to think in linear terms is like substituting one monopoly for another. So `After the Car' asks us to think about how systems operate and how the present, fossilised `car system' may merge into a 21st century networked low-carbon system. Alternatively, it suggests the possibility that `disruptive innovations' may enter the system from the periphery and `tip' the car system into a new arrangement. Could new fuel alternatives help in this system tipping? Perhaps - yet the book suggests this will not happen if the alternative is another corporate fuel monopoly, such as the red-herring `agro-fuel' debate so hotly tipped (and now so widely discredited).

Through a series of chapters the book outlines how the car system got `locked-in'; what constitutes such systems; and what impacts may converge to shift the car system into a different assemblage or mobility network. Outlined are various models that are underway and which offer possible insights. Yet the book is not solely about the car - it examines the wider context of which the car is a central focus.
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Amazon.com: 4.5 out of 5 stars  2 reviews
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars 3,5 stars - lots of questions, not very many answers 22 May 2010
By Philippe Vandenbroeck - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
This short book offers a broad brush discussion of the future of the complex socio-technical system that has emerged around the automobile. The basic idea underpinning the book is that the car system is ripe for tipping into another regime because of crucial developments such as global warming, peak oil, rapid urbanization and the pervasive digitization of many aspects of economic and social life. However, the fact that it might tip does not mean that the car system will move into a very different form of mass mechanized mobility. Whilst the current regime is under pressure, it has proved to be very resilient over a period of more than a century by locking itself into a key position in the leading economic sectors and social practices of twentieth century capitalism. But the potential for change has never been greater and, if it happens, it will arguably have huge impact on our way of life.

So in trying to paint a picture of where this massive change might go, Dennis and Urry discuss a range of technological and institutional developments that might contribute to the emerging post-car regime: new propulsion mechanisms and materials, `smart' technologies, new mobility policies, alternative living and leisure practices, new ownership and usage patterns. A number of contemporary avant garde models are showcased to make the future of personal mobility more tangible. These models range from Bremen's clever transport system to the Transition Town Movement to Norman Foster's Masdar City in Abu Dhabi.

In a final chapter a set of three scenarios is offered to explore the shape of the post-car regime in a more distant future: 1) an `eco-communalist' future based on a network of downscaled, self-reliant communities under the aegis of `small is beautiful'. Mobility is severely restricted because of resource scarcity, 2) an apocalyptic future of `regional warlordism' where society fragments in violent factions resisting an autocratic elite. Mobility is restricted to the `happy few', and 3) a future in which personal mobility will be meshed with pervasive digital networks of control. The ability to move will be constrained at it will come at the cost of a significant loss of privacy.

Whilst the book offers a concise and informative traverse of a fascinating subject area, it has a number of shortcomings. Its brevity is a boon for time-constrained readers but it comes at the cost of both depth and comprehensiveness. There are important developments - such as the introduction of ultra-cheap mass-produced vehicles (Tata Nano) or the economics of personal carbon allowances - that receive very short shrift. Also, the argument is developed from a social sciences, not from an engineering perspective. The authors describe but do not critically assess the relative merits of various technological options. Furthermore, I appreciate the complex systems perspective that underpins the narrative but there is a lot of relatively recent research on the dynamics governing system-wide transitions that would allow for a more nuanced discussion. Now the argument basically boils down to the rather generic `system in a self-critical state + disruptive innovation = new mobility regime'. Finally, I was disappointed by the final scenarios chapter which connects awkwardly to the discussion that precedes it. Suddenly the security implications of global climate change move in as a dominant driver and one wonders why this hasn't been broached earlier. The scenarios are also rather stereotypical: the `catastrophe if we do nothing', the `command and control' and the `self-organization' stories have been turning up in various guises in many scenario exercises over the last 15 years. As a whole the book provides an interesting scaffolding for an imaginative and systemic reflection on the future of personal mobility but this is something that is left to the reader to complete.
3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Clear, easy to read, not a rant, but a good review of problem 15 Jan 2010
By Tom - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I wanted information and background on what might happen to the car culture and our ways of life formed around automobile use. Happily satisfied on a subject it is hard to be happy about.

The book explains how car use is not due simply to our habits and tastes, but a matter of a complex system evolved over more than a century. I liked the explanation of how complex systems work - better than many I have read before. Most interesting are the extensive descriptions of "disruptive" innovations already being tried which have a chance of producing a more sustainable future.

The book seems accessible to people not already knowledgeable on this subject, with plenty of background on auto technology, economics, resources and urban planning. But it includes much technical information (much of it notes) as well. Highly recommended.
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