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Understanding the positioning of 'the electric vehicle consumer': variations in interdisciplinary discourses and their implications for sustainable mobility systems

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal article

E-pub ahead of print
<mark>Journal publication date</mark>5/10/2017
<mark>Journal</mark>Applied Mobilities
Number of pages17
<mark>State</mark>E-pub ahead of print
Early online date5/10/17
<mark>Original language</mark>English


The discursive category of ‘the consumer’ has multiple characterisations, connected to varied accounts of social action, relations and change. This paper is interested in the implications of these varied characterisations for understanding the interdisciplinary knowledge about mobility systems being marshalled in the pursuit of social change. It focuses upon the case of electric vehicles (EVs), examining the varied representations of consumers in three fields – psychological and economic, consumer culture, and transitions management research. It identifies that the EV consumer is positioned within these fields as a purchaser of an inferior ‘car’, a user of multiple materialities, and as one among many important social actors. In order to further consider the implications of these strategically contrasting cases, it considers two questions about how ‘the EV consumer’ is discursively positioned in each: How does this imagined consumer shape what the EV needs to be in order to be widely adopted? What action is required to steer change towards a future of EVs? Doing so highlights how assumptions about ‘the EV consumer’ can establish problematic comparisons between EVs and internal combustion vehicles (ICVs) and exclude the analysis of how EVs and electricity are simultaneously consumed. The usage of ‘the consumer’ as a floating signifier within transitions management literature is argued to provide both risks for interdisciplinary dialogue and potential opportunities for both EV research and steering change towards sustainable mobility systems.

Bibliographic note

This is an Accepted Manuscript of an article published by Taylor //////