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Practic-ing culture: exploring the implications of pre-existing mobility cultures on (post-) pandemic practices in Norway, Ireland, and the United States

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<mark>Journal publication date</mark>9/12/2022
<mark>Journal</mark>Sustainability : Science, Practice, and Policy
Issue number1
Number of pages17
Pages (from-to)483-499
Publication StatusPublished
Early online date14/07/22
<mark>Original language</mark>English


Issues of culture have to date been underexplored in practice-theoretical approaches to consumption. As a disruptive force affecting citizen mobility all over the world, the COVID-19 pandemic provides a unique empirical context to explore how culture and practice intersect, specifically concerning how unsettling events affect practices across different cultural and governing settings. Applying a combined mobility-culture and practice-theoretical framework, we conceptualize mobility cultures as setting-specific arrangements of practices that shape and reflect distinct, temporally unfolding, socio-material contexts. Comparing three cities with different mobility cultures in Norway, Ireland, and the United States, we combine 63 qualitative interviews with a contextual analysis of mobility settings to explore how daily urban mobilities have been transformed. We find that existing variation in mobility cultures, including bundles of place-specific mobility-related norms and infrastructures, mediate the impact of disruption, shaping how changes in modes, meanings, and performances of mobilities transpire. Notably, the analysis reveals how underlying cultures of mobility shape how practice trajectories respond and are reconfigured in a pandemic health-risk society. The article concludes by discussing the implications of the findings for understanding how culture and practice intersect and calls for further comparative culture-focused analysis in social science research on consumption. We consider how cross-cultural analysis can inform science and policy efforts focused on transitions toward low-carbon mobilities.