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Practices of car parking in urban areas

Practices of car parking in urban areas: infrastructures of mobility


Project description

The project is undertaken as part of the Horizon 2020 WIRL-COFUND Fellowship awarded by the Institute of Advanced Study to Dr Karol Kurnicki.

Duration: September 2018 – September 2020.

Supported at CIM by Dr Noortje Marres.

The project combines two main perspectives to investigate parking as a social practice. Firstly, car parking is seen as an element of urban mobility that has peculiar qualities: it is based on immobility, defined by a material object, and “invisibilised” both in urban space and discourses on automobility. Secondly, parking is considered as one of the socio-material urban infrastructures, one that is produced not only by local administrations but also by people’s practices. As such, it brings to light differences in how infrastructures function beyond the standardised, universal ideal.

Within the framework of mobility and infrastructure studies the project looks more closely at the role of materiality in social practices, differences in rights to space among human and non-human actors, and political and institutional processes of dealing with complex urban problem. The fieldwork in four European cities (London, Warsaw, Utrecht and Belgrade) uses interviews with drivers, mobile ethnography and visual methods. Part of the project focused on London looks closely at car parking in the digital context of social media.

The purpose of the project is to make interdisciplinary methodological connections between social practices and infrastructure that help to understand complicated urban phenomena. The research engages with issues of digitalisation of im|mobility and explores possibilities of studying social practices in a variety of contexts that involve non-human actors, data and result in mediated recomposition of social life.

The project contributes to the theory of social practices, studies of materiality in the digital settings, and studies on infrastructures. Beyond academic objectives, it is planned to have implications for urban policies, especially pertaining to futures of mobility, infrastructural transformations, and sustainable urban futures.