PostDoc Project: Subjects in Visions of Future Mobility

Imagining mobility futures:

Conceptions of subjects in sociotechnical imaginaries of passenger mobility


Researchers: Antonia Graf and Marco Sonnberger


  • Research questions: How are subjects and groups of subjects constructed in visions of future passenger mobility? Which needs and characteristics are attributed?
  • Theory: Sociotechnical imaginaries approach
  • Methods: Content analysis, critical discourse analysis



Due to ecological challenges mainly posed by peak fossil fuel and climate change, many societies are struggling with energy and mobility transitions. Thereby, future mobility concepts are expected to satisfy a broad range of different needs and to contribute to the solution of various mobility related issues (mainly transport’s energy use and related emissions). While advocates draw a positive picture of shared and sustainable future mobility of individuals, critics question ecological effects and problematize vulnerable infrastructures, issues of social inclusiveness, potential rebound effects, and so forth. Not surprisingly, it remains rather unclear how the individual and its needs are conceived in visions of future passenger mobility. In fact, individuals and their needs are often absorbed by the normative, future-eyed assumptions underlying sociotechnical imaginaries.


The research project aims at tracing different concepts of individuals, their subject positions, and attributed needs in sociotechnical imaginaries of passenger mobility. Our analysis is based on a qualitative inquiry of different visions in the form of text-based policy documents, position papers, future strategies, scenarios, and so forth. We investigate which needs are attributed and (re)constructed in visions of future passenger mobility by different stakeholders such as car manufacturers, civil society organizations, and municipalities.