Friday, 26 December 2008

What's Wrong with Education ?

What follows is an edited version of a report I wrote for my PGCE qualification on “Quality” in the modern education system based on my own experience of teaching in a Further Education college.

I have changed certain aspects of the content so as not to identify the institution, although my scathing criticisms are of the adoption of TQM in what should be a part of the service sector and not of the college itself which, like all such institutions have no choice other than to play the TQM game. I argue below that the modern education system is not aimed at primarily meeting the needs of either students (as most such institutions constantly proffer) or ‘society’ in the broader context of social structures outside the corporate/capitalist ethos.

One thing I would have changed as a result of my experience is my general regard for the computer student-tracking system. I am now much more critical of this because, in ways I should have foreseen given what I have said below, it’s validity results largely from how staff determine which factors about students are important and how individual students are perceived by staff.

It’s pretty boring as well as I had to fulfil various criteria in terms of content, but if you are interested in such matters….read from about the section on “Quality Management at X FE college” if you don’t know how such places work or perhaps from “Criticisms of TQM in Practice” if you do.

TQM in Education – In Whose Interest?

In this piece I will examine the rise and influence of Total Quality Management (TQM) in education and relating it to my own experiences as a Humanities and Applied Social Sciences lecturer at X FE college. This will include a section on some of the ways in which my own teaching is evaluated. I will also assert the view that TQM primarily prioritises the needs of corporatism and individualist, economic growth rather than those of more communitarian needs such as equality and social justice.

What is Quality?

Dictionary definitions of quality tend to be concerned with issues connected with the characteristics that something has and also with its degree of ‘excellence’. Common-sense or street definitions lean towards the idea that quality really means high quality, so that a ‘quality’ item may have characteristics which include being precision designed and built, luxurious, robust and desirable. In other words the everyday understanding is an absolute definition of quality – that the item or service has been produced or delivered to the highest achievable, unsurpassable standard. Such a definition is now considered elitist in education where a relative definition is employed. This has two aspects to it – firstly that teaching, learning (and the increasingly complex systems put into place to optimise the learning environment) should measure up to pre-set specifications so that they can be tested, and secondly that customer requirements should be met.

Quality in education has been adapted from its original application to the commercial, private sector (see origins of this later in “Who is the main customer?”). Its first form was that of Quality Control. This concept requires the use of quality experts to test and evaluate finished products so that a characteristic of this method is that measures ensuring quality are made after the event resulting in a lot of waste when those products which don’t measure up are discarded.

The expert definition of quality (i.e. as evaluated by the quality controller) was later superseded by a producer definition within the within the concept of Quality Assurance. Rather than measuring quality after the event, quality assurance demands that systems are put into place so that a quality product is ensured before production begins. Rather than reliance on individual expertise there is a much greater emphasis on teamwork. Team members consult in order to decide how to employ best practice before, during and after the event so that production faults can be eliminated and processes and protocols guide good practice.

The move towards team, rather than individual involvement in quality demands that much more staff training. Corporations have become increasingly involved with initiatives such as investment in people because of the significance given to the need for team members to be kept up to date with best practice by attending appropriate seminars and the like so that they can be proactive in discussions within their own team in ensuring quality. With this came an evolutionary shift towards what would be termed Total Quality Management (TQM).

From production forms of quality control through corporatist team working and quality assurance the move towards TQM coincided with an increasing focus within public sector bodies to compete for markets i.e. to operate as a business. This meant that schools and colleges for example compete (and select) for students, directing their marketing activities towards prospective students and their parents. The publication of league tables and the formation of bodies to promote quality have played a central role here (and one to which we will return later).

A key characteristic of TQM is the sovereign position of the customer. A customer based focus is supposed to ensure that the customer gets what s/he wants, how s/he wants it and when s/he wants it. The movement away from the expert quality controller to team is stronger still – to the extent that each individual team member takes responsibility for their own application of quality issues in their own area and receives ongoing training to supplement their own expertise. Individuals are expected to self-manage and old management styles are turned upside down (as in the upside-down pyramid model, see ). Lecturers are relatively free to operate within their own area as they see fit as long is seen to be effective in monitoring. As well as evaluation and observations to moderate quality, teams meet with co-workers and management staff in quality circles to brainstorm ideas (along with feedback from student results, testing bodies and so on) with a strong emphasis on continual improvement.

Bodies Involved in Quality Improvement

The following is a brief trawl through some of the significant systems and bodies employed with a view to ensure quality within the TQM philosophy.

ISO 9001:2000

The ISO 9000 series has become the worlds most dominant quality standard permeating many areas in the public and private sectors and it is now part and parcel of total quality philosophy and methodology and serves as the mainstay of TQM. Its main principles are customer focus, leadership, involvement of people, the utilisation of processes and systems, continual improvement, objectivity through decisions based on testable results and mutually beneficial supplier relationships. ISO 9001:200 focuses on standards for the systems in operation rather than standards of achievement. So the emphasis is on trying to ensure the delivery of appropriate systems which will include effective monitoring and feedback mechanisms to promote continual improvement.

Investors In People

A staff-focused system launched in the early 1990s with an emphasis on national standards of good practice in staff training and development. Again the orientation is towards a business philosophy in improving competitiveness and the achievement of business goals. External auditors regularly meet with organisations employing IIP to collate evidence for the effectiveness of all the organisation’s commitment, planning and systems of evaluation utilized to meet current and future needs of staff in terms of maximising business outcomes. During an audit issues will be discussed with staff representatives and feedback will be delivered to the organisation in terms of actions to be taken in order to effect the development of people skills which promote business goals.

The Qualifications and Curriculum Authority (QCA)

The QCA controls standards in education and training in schools and colleges. It works in tandem with the DFES (the Department for Education and Skills) and their work together can be seen as having two main strands; firstly on promoting inclusion by (an increasingly individually focused) development people’s learning so that everyone has access to reaching a level of educational achievement which is as high as possible and secondly, promotion of a competitive economy. Increasingly a considerable level of educational attainment is considered as a prerequisite for Britain’s economic success to correspond to changes from a predominantly production/manufacturing economy to a service one likely to rely heavily on a more highly educated workforce. Increasingly the QCA have thus been more heavily involved with the development of national occupational standards of training and appraisal systems in the workplace outside of schools and colleges.

The Learning and Skills Council (LSC)

Founded in 2001 the LSC’s remit covers F.E. work-placed training and development, learning in the community and guidance for adults. It does this partly by fostering links with important partners employers and business development quangos such as business link. The LSC also works alongside the learning and skills development agency which is, in effect a resource base for education and training in the post 16 sector and supporting quality management in colleges and increasingly in recent years, within work places.

The role of the LSC is twofold in firstly planning for the (immediate and long-term) future of post 16 education channelling funding in such a way as is thought to be most productive in terms of what might be thought of as “meeting the needs of society” i.e. in providing for the economic growth of the country. A stated mission is that by 2010 young people and adults in the UK will have “the knowledge and skills matching the best in the world” The organisation works through a raft of related structures such as business and employment services, connexions and training organisations as well as F.E. and sixth form colleges.

Like so many other organisations involved in TQM the LSC uses strategies to improve the educational success of individuals and the wider economic success of the country. The primary impact in colleges is perhaps its role in providing, channelling and diverting funding. It is funding, and where it is targeted which largely determines what colleges do – which courses they put on or scrap.

The Office For Standards in Education (OFSTED)

OFSTED comes under the umbrella organisation the Adult Learning Inspectorate which is…

“…responsible for inspecting the quality of education and training for adults and young people in England, raising standards and reporting its findings back to both the Secretary of State for Education and the public” (

OFTSTED itself is highly influential in the day to day activities and the long-term planning in schools and colleges. Founded in the 1990s their role is implementing and managing the school and college inspections. The reason for the enormity of its influence is this: If educational establishments are now operating in effect as businesses, then it is OFSED (along with results data and league-table rankings) which largely dictate how successful or otherwise an educational establishment is with an important bearing on activities, funding and even (e.g. in the case of ‘failing schools’) on the continuation of individual schools and colleges. A huge effect in terms of resources and staff-hours goes into meeting criteria used to measure the effectiveness of quality systems in place, how they are exorcised and what actually occurs in the classroom.

Life Long Learning UK (LLUK)

LLUK has a major influence on the day to day activities of individual lecturers because it is largely responsible for setting the professional standards (formally FENTO standards) required of F.E. teachers. The standards relate to seven key areas which any proficient lecturer should demonstrate (Reece and Wlaker, 2003, Appx 1.): Assessing learner needs, planning and preparation of teaching, managing the learning process, providing support, assessing learner needs and planning future practice in light of self evaluation and reflection. The development and promotion of standards is a key way in which quality assurance is maintained. One of the outcomes on recent years is in the obligation of all F.E. teachers to have undertaken a teaching qualification endorsed by LLUK/FENTO.

Quality Management at X FE college

The college has an array of quality systems certified to ISO90001:2000 maintained and revised by the business manager. The three overriding concerns in terms of quality measurement are retention (has the student stayed on the course?), achievement (what were her/his final grades?) and value added (how did student results compare with predicted results based on national findings?). Each student is allocated a minimum projected grade at the start of the year and progress is monitored by teams of teaching and managerial staff. Courses are analysed by teams and a review of each course is undertaken at the end of each term, special attention being given to underperforming courses. In addition external moderation of courses takes place from time to time (e.g. with a non-college representative of a relevant examination body). Course meetings are attended by teachers, managers and student representatives, feedback is analysed and action plans formulated to ensure continuing improvement.

Every year student (and staff) satisfaction surveys are carried out, results analysed and appropriate resultant action taken. Recently X FE college has also started to instigate focus groups with classes with a view to getting more qualitative data on student learning experiences.

All teaching staff are involved in regular classroom observations which may include peer observations and once per year an observation focussing on different or innovative forms of delivery. Staff are obliged to be attentive to the need to constantly develop and update their skills by attending appropriate meetings and seminars (e.g. on new legislation or on good practice). Teachers keep a continuing professional development file to log their teaching qualifications, reflections and plans for future development. Lecturers on the college payroll are required to spend 5 days in industrial experience outside the college for every 2 year period. Staff appraisals are devised to identify any issues needs and development requirements of individual teachers on the college payroll.

Computer databases and programmes are key to the colleges data analysis, the tracking of student progress (including student issues identified and targets set), course reviews, record keeping and so on as well as a comprehensive reference store for college policies and significant national policies (e.g. every child matters, Data Protection etc).

Quality audits are undertaken from time to time in curriculum or functional areas as well as college-wide audits. These are very important as failure to correct a single non-compliance identified in the event of an external assessment would result in the colleges removal of its certification to ISO9001.

Criticisms of TQM in Practice

In evaluating TQM we might start by suggesting generally that any system which understands and measures success in terms mainly of statistical data on retention, student results and value added is bound to be reductionist to an extent. To boil down all the experiences and mental processes that go into a classroom or school/college environment to sets of numerical data is going to miss out an awful lot of qualitative information. That said TQM emphasises an approach which looks at the processes involved not just final outcomes and there is a move to give increasing attention to the student experience or ‘voice’ (see appendix A).

At X FE college student progress is monitored using a ‘student tracker’ computer program as well as through regular team meetings and resultant reviews of student progress and issues. Student issues are open to differing interpretation and misinterpretation however and depends partly on things such as the kind of communication which goes on between staff and students and/or their parents/guardians. For example while one student who is regularly missing deadlines and has poor attendance may be labelled as ‘lazy’ or ‘unmotivated’, another in the same situation may be viewed as managing very well in difficult home/private circumstances (i.e. it might depend on the students skill in communicating/providing evidence for problems outside their academic life). While words such as ‘lazy’ are deemed too subjective for use in reports and data records, they are still used in discussions with students in meetings and this affects how such reports are written and how the students are regarded by staff.

Similarly, although focus groups are giving a more qualitative insight into the experience of students and how well the college is meeting their needs, the findings are inevitably refracted through the attitudes and views (and biases) of teachers. Team meetings to discuss focus group findings which I have been involved with have tended to look at each point made by the students in turn and decide firstly whether or not it is a valid point. It could be said that this is where teacher professionalism comes in but nevertheless a certain amount of bias is bound to affect on the level of validity assigned to each point and how they are acted upon.

Student surveys are largely quantitative in nature and reveal little insight into students feelings about their courses but provide useful data and are arguably counterbalanced by the focus groups mentioned above.

Observations organised by the college not only allow teachers to develop their skills but also ensures that come an OFSTED inspection, staff should be adequately rehearsed to sail through an official observation. Graded or informal observations are very stressful for teachers and are limited by tight criteria which may restrict the scope of what a lesson may consist of and how it develops but the powers that be seem to be more aware of the stress involved as OFSTED, for example are introducing lighter touch observational methods in many instances. I can also say that observations do seem to become less stressful the more of them you experience! I have found peer observations particularly useful in developing ideas to bring to my own sessions.

Staff appraisals do not apply to agency staff such as myself, who may be largely left in the dark as to how the college views their progress, relying solely on informal feedback from colleagues (apart from the classroom observations).

The myriad of systems employed to deal with data is dominated by computerised systems. Some of these are more user-friendly than others. I find the ‘student tracker’ system (discussed earlier) particularly good as it easily allows access to any issues of individual learners, what agreements they have come to and update the files as necessary. On the other hand I have spent long periods looking for some document or other on the college Staff Information System and my heart sinks when I’m told “it’s on CIS”! Teaching staff (as with other public sector workers who operate business-orientated TQM systems now have to deal with enormous amounts of paperwork in order for the systems to work efficiently) all the ‘i’s must be dotted and ‘t’s crossed and this takes a lot of time and personal resources away from teaching itself.

In Whose Interest is TQM?

What makes a good college? One answer could be a college which looks to the individual needs of the students and helps them to achieve what they want in order to progress happily/successfully on to the next stage of their lives. Another possible answer is one which employs effective number crunching tools in order to produce desirable data outcomes which translate as ‘good results’ and push it high into the league tables and earn higher status (and economic rewards) for the institution and its staff. The two answers are not necessarily produced by the same thing. Two questions we might ask regarding this are to what extent does the data (results) reflect reality? And which customer in modern education, is given most importance?

How Valid is the Data?

The data systems employed are complex and a detailed analysis is beyond the scope of this piece. However certain issues are clear. Firstly a college can obtain good results by selecting students who achieved well at school in the first place. The results thereby being largely a reflection of the selection procedure rather than in-house education, though a growing emphasis on value added is likely to alleviate this problem to some extent. Another issue involves the motivations (and biases) at work in how data is produced. It is well known that in business ‘creative accounting’ is often used to reduce overheads such as tax (e.g. a night-out which put down as a business expense). If a colleges funding, prestige (and the pay levels of its staff) is directly influenced by its results (i.e. attendance, achievement and value added data) then it makes sense that an ambitious college must employ clever accountants. Similarly the success of individual teaching staff is dependant on their results so teachers are also under pressure to cook the books to some extent. I know that for instance on some struggling courses (i.e. ones which may be pulled, possibly putting some staff out of work if results don’t improve), teachers are sometimes under pressure to ensure that all the remaining students pass. The resultant marking may not then be as objective as in other circumstances! I also know of several cases where teachers have understandably made sure that students complete necessary tutorial forms even when the students have not actually done the work which these forms represent. In this way staff and students knowingly play the game, colluding with each other in order to avoid ‘unnecessary’ paperwork and extra hoops to jump through (in my experience A level tutorial workload is regarded with cynicism by many staff and students alike). Arguably the main role of data produced in general is in being seen to do the right thing rather than actually doing it.

Who is the main customer?

TQM demands customer sovereignty but as Bottery (2003) points out, it is not clear “just who in education is the customer? student? parent? local community? business? Government?” etc.

As a teacher my main concern is the students as my main day to day activities revolve around helping them with their assignments and exam preparation. However this is not to say that this is the case for all teachers – for more ambitious teachers their status in the college/education system may be their prime concern.

We have to go back to the 1980s, Thatcher and the New Right to look at the origin of the perceived need to instil a business ethos in the public sector. The Right saw the public sector as being inefficient, unresponsive and run by “self-serving professionals” (ibid:62). At the same time “…public sector agendas concerned with questions of inequality were downplayed or even dropped” (ibid). The Thatcher years saw corporate/consumer versions of quality dominate and massive levels of inequality in Britain (e.g. mass unemployment – see Pierson, 1998). Successive (even Labour) governments have continued many Thatcherite themes and favoured corporate managerialism over equality Notwithstanding a raft of equal rights legislation and policies on things like the minimum wage, inequality remains an enormous problem. It could even be argued that a kind of corporate/capitalist hegemony imbues staff, learners and parents that in playing the game, it is the rules of the business ethic which must be adhered to and thus the economic ‘needs’ of the country in general and the profit margins of individual businesses.

Botters (2003) suggests that in embossing managerialism/corporatism, some important public sector values such as equality, justice and community have either been dropped or subsumed by private, managerialist values which promote the efforts of the self-interested individual over the needs of the many. For example it is clear in my short experience of teaching that articulate parents with the time and ability to arrange persuasive, skilfully played out meetings (so the middle classes have an important advantage) and adept as at getting their ‘problem’ son or daughter back on the course or given extra attention - from empathising middle class staff.

The idea of the student or parent as a customer assumes consumer choice (e.g. which they can exorcise by choosing a ‘better’ college). In reality students are often likely to go to their nearest college (and again, the middle classes are more likely to move area based on performance leagues). Even staff are reluctant to accept learners from too far away as they may end up dropping out (and spoiling the stats).

Recently myself and colleagues had the upsetting task of seeing some students thrown off a course primarily on their failure to meet attendance requirements (their motivation and written work had improved dramatically, a point which teaching staff urged on management). The said students were on a care course and the teachers involved saw them as having the right personal qualities to make excellent carers. Students seem more likely to ‘succeed’ if they are adept at playing the game and effectively producing appropriate documentary evidence for absences and delayed work (in a minor reflection of corporate concerns with producing effective documentary data), something which again ‘pushy parents’ and confident students are more proficient at.

Although students are given at least a nominal status of being the main customer (e.g. in college mission statements), I would argue that a modern college’s paramount concern is in producing ‘successful’ data which may be at odds with student experiences on the ground and that this is primarily for individualist, economic benefits. The divide between rich and poor evidently remains a serious issue in education (as in the UK) along with lack of social mobility. In spite of reams of policy on equality and diversity TQM appears to be doing little to hinder this gap and may even exacerbate it by favouring those with middle class orientations and promoting a managerial bias. Furthermore I would go on to suggest that education has not only become a by-product of the dominant business ethic but that it has become one of the systems for perpetuating and perhaps accelerating a business/managerial/corporate culture (see Gramsci, 1971 for the concept of a capitalist hegemony). As Tuckmann (1995) argues, TQM internalises the values and concepts of the market into every relationship so that even nominally liberalist egalitarian concepts like ‘empowerment’ and ‘participation’ are redefined within managerially defined notions of the concepts (e.g. someone is empowered…within in the allocation of business agendas).

The emphasis on the need for education to fulfil the economic needs of the country may be laudable but in ignoring communitarian needs it is also extremely blinkered. In a context of a globalised world in which national inequalities are wide and international ones extreme (and likely to be exacerbated by environmental changes) the reaffirment of more communitarian values in education is surely paramount, rather than a system primed mainly towards short-term economic ‘needs’ of the country.

Appendix Index

Appendix A: Representing the Learner Voice

Appendix B: Lesson Plan Pro-Forma

Appendix C: Example of Focus Group Student Feedback

Appendix C: Simple Survey on Classroom Activities
Websites Used
(All checked/accessed on 10/08/07)

Friday, 7 September 2007

'We Are The Traffic'Inertia, Resistance and Potential for Change in an Auto-Hegemony

'We Are The Traffic'Inertia, Resistance and Potential for Change in an Auto-Hegemony

1) Introduction
The Twentieth century has been the century of the car. Throughout the Western world, cars have come to dominate the minds of transport planners, been the subject of immense levels of state subsidy and developed into an 'essential' consumer item among the comparatively wealthy. Indeed the privately owned car has developed into a symbol of national industrial pride and individual affluence, synonymous with personalised freedom and status. As cars have become the dominant factor in the transport systems of industrial nations, they are have also increasingly been the focus of attention in relation to environmental concerns.
Throughout their history, cars have been the subject of efforts to control or diminish their 'negative' aspects, particularly in terms of public safety. In recent times, the continual growth of increasing car-domination as a dynamic, has itself become a subject of criticism as environmentalists and other interested groups have pointed to the 'folly' of continuing a pattern of development which both assumes, and provides for ever increasing car-use. Every attempt to control the 'negative' aspects of cars, (whether successful or not) have taken place during this continuing upward trend, and all overt efforts to question the logic of continuous car-growth itself have so-far failed to curtail it. Indeed, as corporations and governments pay ever more lip-service to the need to limit the car, nothing, it appears, seems able to stop its continued dominance and proliferation.
This study includes the perhaps novel idea that what might easily be portrayed as 'failures' in attempts to curtail car-growth may actually form part of the same dynamic of continued car-domination. The attempt will be made to illustrate that many of the efforts to restrict cars, and the promotion of transport 'alternatives', 'integration' and/or 'diversity' may conversely help to both legitimise car-use and help promote the cars' positive association with images of individual status and freedom thus continuing this mode of transports' pre-eminent position. Endeavours to provide for increased pedestrianisation, growing cycle-networks and high-technology rail links are subsumed into the dominant dynamic of car growth and the overriding car-first ethos. This is perhaps best illustrated in countries which have put into practice models of ecological modernisation, in which modernised transport systems, while making 'alternatives' more attractive, nevertheless remain merely alternative to the still-dominant car.
It will be argued here, that it is primarily in the social sphere in which long-standing symbolic associations of cars and 'freedom' are, to an extent, being undermined by new, countering images which symbolically connect 'the car' with images of 'destruction' and 'dependance'. Just as 'the car' has been perhaps the symbol of industrialist pride, for many environmental groups it has also become symbolic of short-term capitalistic greed and unbridled ecological destruction. The car's symbolic meaning in political and public realms has become contested, as contradictions concerning conceptions of freedom and dependance which surround it are increasingly revealed.

2) Capitalist Expansion and the Dynamic of Car Expansion

'Those who have taken the pains to search below the surface for the great tendencies of the age, know what a giant industry is struggling into being there. All signs point to the motor vehicle as the necessary sequence of methods of locomotion already established and approved. The growing needs of our civilisation demand it; the public believe in it, and await with lively interest its practical applications to the daily business of the world.' (From issue 1. of 'The Horseless Age', 1895, illustrated in Flink, 1970: 22).
Thus, as the end of the nineteenth century approached a discernibly favourable leaning towards the car could already be felt. The car seemed then (and at least until recently), as representative of a leap into a bright, scientific future in which technological advancements promised a modern, more affluent and more 'free' world. The notion of a world of motorised private traffic seemed also to forge a 'natural' bond with individualised conceptions of 'freedom' in a free-market, liberalised economy. The car could thus come to symbolise techno-scientific advancement , individual autonomy and capitalist industrial expansion, in short; everything that had come to be accepted as 'good' about liberal democracy in North American and European countries (Freund and Martin, 1993: 82), indeed, the degree of motorisation in a country often being taken as the measure of its level of democratisation (ibid).
The century that followed the pointed prediction made in 'The Horseless Age' (above), did indeed witness the emergence of a powerful car industry and a remarkable proliferation of 'horseless carriages' that came to dominate the transport systems and even entire urban landscapes of the 'developed' nations. The development of a major car industry can be seen as a product of an advanced capitalist society, shaped by its imperatives (in the movement of actors and products chasing profit), but it is also more than this, because a mature transport system based on individualised private transport, itself plays a prominent role in the promotion and reproduction of capitalist expansion:
'In general, auto-truck transport systems have provided capitalist enterprises with a new flexibility to reach markets and to de-centralize production......Auto-centered transport has an affinity with global capitalism not only because it is part of its infrastructure, but because it requires resource and energy-intense consumption.' (Freund and Martin, 1993: 172).
Paterson warns us against taking the massive expansion of the car industry for granted (Paterson, 2000: 262) and emphasises the degree to which a successful car industry (along with the related industries involving oil production and processing) has appeared to be a necessary precursor for high levels of economic success and the advancement of the capitalist system itself. Paterson asserts that this is not only due to the inherent flexibility (including acceleration of the movement of goods and people between places) offered by auto-transport (Paterson, 2000: 264, also noted by Freund and Martin,1993: 172) but also because of the symbolic significance of an association between the car and economic development. More generally, Paterson notes cultural assumptions which relate transport growth with the development (thus 'growth') of modern economies by both academics and transport planners (Paterson, 2000: 263). This is not least because a key factor in the economic reorganising of industrial production and the stimulation of the economy was instigated by the car industry itself, in the use of the assembly line, though a process named through its origins in the car industry: 'Fordism' (ibid: 262). This injected new stimuli for cycles of economic growth. 'Fordism ' therefore became central in 'legitimising the car's expansion, enabling the car to become perhaps the symbol of progress for most of the twentieth century' (ibid:262-263).
Paterson also emphasises the extent to which states have actively promoted the expansion of the car industry, indicating four facets of state promotion of the car that began in 1910 and continues to the present (Paterson, 2000: 265-268), these being; 1) road building, 2) the progressive downgrading of public transport, 3) the subsidisation of car-based infrastructure compared with other forms of travel and 4) incidences of collusion between states and the car industry to remove competition (Paterson, 2000: 266). Provision for cars demanded extensive programmes of well surfaced roads and associated infrastructure for parking, refuelling and so on. Much of this infrastructure was primarily or solely designed for cars and built at the either de facto or overt exclusion of other (potential) road users, seen for example in parking lots designed to be physically too small to allow the entrance of buses (ibid), and the eventual spread of motorways 'designed and regulated to be used solely by motorised transport - bicycles and pedestrians (being) explicitly excluded by them' (ibid). As states put greater investments into private-car initiatives, public transport has correspondingly been downgraded and neglected. If railways had been the previously 'dominant' form of travel (at least in terms of long distance, cross-country journeys), Western nations have tended to heavily prioritise road funding over that of rail and other means of public transport (Wolf, 1996: 75-81).
Furthermore, the kind of language surrounding the funding of differing means of transport has been used in such a way as to place the funding of car-related infrastructure in a positive light and that of other kinds in a negative one. Funding of public transport initiatives has continually been referred to in terms of 'subsidy' while that for roads has been talked of within the language of 'investment' thus placing public transport in a relatively precarious position when it comes to justifying the demand for tax-payers money, (more aspects of symbolic differentiation between car-based transport and other kinds is a subject that will be returned to later).
Paterson's fourth facet of state promotion of the car is that regarding incidents of direct collusion between states and car manufacturers and related industries to remove competition (that is; other transport options), such as in the systematic buying-up and dismantling of tram lines by motor-based companies, to reduce competition for cars (see Paterson 2000: 267-268).
In addition, states viewed the car as symbolising unstoppable technological progress to which the only credible response within an environment of inter-state competition was to 'take the lead' rather than be left behind by more progressive seeming countries (Wolfgang Sachs, 'For the Love of the Automobile' cited in ibid: 268), a response which was enhanced by the association of a strong car industry with military prowess (ibid), an alliance, (or at least a perceived alliance) not lost on Adolf Hitler in his instigation of the Autobahn system (which became the model for the UK's motorway network and the U.S.A.'s interstate highway system) (Freund and Martin, 1993: 83) and promotion of the Volkswagen car, in his advancement of automobility as a 'folk right' in Germany (ibid). Cars have since been systematically been promoted across the globe by international political and economic institutions. The World Bank has for instance, consistently supported private sector initiatives which aid the liberalisation of motorised transport (Whitelegg, 1997:51). The car as a primary symbol of liberation, democracy, technical and military expertise has thus received official sanction for strategies for its promotion and proliferation.

3) Vicious Cycles of Car Growth, Congestion and Exclusion: The Contradictions of Freedom and Dependance

Danger and Disenfranchisement -The Non-Motorist as a Victim of the Car
A growing awareness is developing that in the Western nations, transport systems have been developed which are so dominated by cars as to effectively create a kind of positive-feedback mechanism through which a greater physical dependency on cars is created in many people (dependencies of a more social/symbolic variety will be tackled in some depth later) resulting in more people who are able to use cars doing so, which in turn, leads to even greater reliances on cars. As we have already seen, the association of automobility with successful economic development is a notion that has pervaded the minds of transport planners as well as others. It is no surprise then, that urban planning has long been premised on the prioritising of car transport, thus promoting a double-edged trend of both increased motorisation, and increased motor-priority.
The prioritisation of cars over other forms of transport has occurred at an implicit as well as at an overt level, because high levels of motorised traffic can make other methods of travel far less attractive:
'The urban system has moved so far in the direction of satisfying the needs of the person in the car that it acts as an efficient deterrent to those who struggle on as pedestrians or cyclists...these disincentives to walk or cycle create a powerful inducement to own and use a car, thus exacerbating the problem for others and adding to the pressure for yet more car ownership and use' (Whitelegg, 1997: 136).
Pedestrians who have no access to a car often need, for example, to continually cross busy roads to get about in in their everyday lives, a relatively basic manoeuvre that nevertheless becomes very stressful and dangerous in the presence of heavy car use (ibid), something that has become a factor in discussions about 'the school run', in which parents who (in an 'ideal world') say they would like their children to walk or cycle to school (for the health benefits and so on) nevertheless drive them in on the grounds that high levels of car-use make it, conversely, seem too dangerous to not go by car (thereby making the trip even less attractive to those who still travel by other methods). Such problems have been exacerbated by planning policy decisions which have made the prior assumption of widespread public car-use. Urban zoning based on car-access (ibid) and out of town shopping and entertainment centres have become an accepted part of 'normal' living for many, and one which is highly problematic for those without access to a car. Shopping by non-car users, for example, often means either making more trips and carrying less (thereby loosing out on bulk-buying discounts) and crossing dangerous roads in the process, or visiting the remaining smaller shops (that have survived competition with the supermarkets) that are usually more expensive. Planners have also prioritised the time savings of motorists, thus causing negative impacts on the time-budget of non-motorists (ibid).
Certain groups of people crop up continually as those who are non-motorists. A study of travel decisions by Dix, Carpenter, Clarke, Pollard and Spencer (1986) for instance, found that one of the main groups of people unable to use a car for travel to work were working wives in one-car-families (ibid: 61), many of whom worked part-time and so were unable to organise lifts in cars due to the impossibility of co-ordinating their working times with other household members or friends (ibid). This provides, of course, one explanation for the growth of two (or more) car families, and again suggests a correlation between cars and perceptions of freedom. Indeed, in the latter case, the provision of a car for a working wife can be seen as nothing short of emancipatory, and thus indicative of the progress of a modern liberal democracy.
Many of the groups who are disadvantaged (in the sense that they have little or no access to a car whilst confronted with an infrastructure that has prioritised cars) are very likely to be members of of groups who are disadvantaged in other ways as well. People without regular access to a car disproportionately include those in low-paid jobs, the unemployed, women, children and non-whites (supporting the view that car-use is, even within developed countries, a relatively elite activity).
Such people, being most reliant on public transport, are also likely to suffer most from fare rises (whitelegg, 1997: 137). As Whitelegg (ibid) states, 'a public transport system which is efficient and attractive may as well not exist if the sectors of the population who are most reliant on it cannot afford to use it'. High prices mean, for example, that train travel, like travel by car, has arguably become an elite activity in the UK, with poorer groups left to travel on less attractive bus services, or perhaps not travel for long distances at all. Recent protestations by motorists lobby groups that fuel prises have become 'too high' have nevertheless faced a situation in which 'real term' costs of private car travel in Britain have remained basically stable in the last fifteen years, whereas ticket prices for buses and trains have increased by 30% in the same period (Chris Hewett, The Guardian, 'Drivers must Pay', 14/09/2000); 'Fuel tax and the worldwide increase in oil price are merely giving motorists and hauliers a flavour of what bus and train users have put up with for years' (ibid).
Disadvantaged groups are also far more likely to be victims of traffic-induced physical injury or death. Research suggests that 'foreigners', for example, are more likely to be killed on the roads than 'natives' (Whitelegg, 1997: 142-143). Similarly, killing by motorised traffic is the single most common cause of death amongst school-age children (ibid), and those from the lowest social class (in statistics compiled from England and Wales using five gradings of social class) are more than seven times as likely to die in this way than those from the highest (ibid).
It is highly likely that parents remove children from very risky environments resulting in busy roads (and even nationally compiled traffic statistics) having lower mortality rates than would be the case if they were used more by children and other 'vulnerable' groups (ibid). Indeed in the UK it is often boasted that we have 'the safest roads in Europe', but this claim is based partly on the lack of non-motorists on the streets. In terms of the deaths of children walking and cycling, we are actually in second place in the 'most dangerous roads in Europe' stakes (Wolf, 1996: 202-203). In spite of the blatantly inequitable effects of car-priority transport mentioned above, discourses of 'road safety' justify the provision of yet further resources for motoring:
'Most effort and expenditure goes into activities to protect the occupants of vehicles (who are largely protected already by mass and metal).... A child has no vote and a poor child has very little choice about daily activity patterns, types of journey and opportunities that can be exploited. This child will spend a lot of time on the street and the street is a very dangerous place.' (Whitelegg, 1997: 143).
The more that the double-edged trend of increased motorisation with the prioritisation of motorised traffic by planners and policy makers has continued, the more that those disenfranchised by the car-dominated society will want (if and when they can afford to), to leave this disadvantaged group and join the motorists, thus exacerbating the problems subjected to remaining non-motorists and the environment. Together, the trends discussed above, combined with a continuing political and economic will which favours a powerful car/oil industry and mass transit by individualised motorists (as 'rational', independent , economic actors) makes the continuation of car-domination in the infrastructures of the wealthier nations look like an unstoppable force.

Dependancy, Myths of Mobility and Poor-Health - The Motorist as a victim of the car.
As we have seen, non-motorists living in a society whose transport system is dominated by, and gives priority to cars, suffer the brunt of the unequal distribution of many of its negative impacts. One might be forgiven for thinking then, (putting environmental arguments to one side), that the most equitable answer is to try to make everyone into motorists. However, many theorists have pointed to the extent to which motorists themselves are also the 'victims' of car-dominated transport systems. Far from being 'free', painted in such a light, motorists may be increasingly being seen as being trapped into a world of auto-dependency which ultimately, does not meet their best interests. To start with, the ability 'to choose' to either be disenfranchised by the infrastructure around you or not can be seen as no choice at all. But at least, it could be said, such a person has been granted the economic power to be able to make that choice. Nevertheless, there are ways in which motorists are, in a sense, 'victims' of their own preferred mode of travel.

Air pollution is not something easily contained by physical boundaries. Clearly, good arguments can be made for the likelihood of air pollution being suffered more greatly by poorer people in, lets say, traffic-congested city centres, than by those who can afford to live in leafy suburbs. Nevertheless, an infrastructure which facilitates significant pollution of the air ultimately (and to a greater or lesser extent) pollutes it for everyone. Indeed, some studies have suggested that car-born pollutants are less inequitable than might previously have been thought, due to pollution levels inside a car being found to be much greater than that immediately outside (The Times, 24/11/1997 cited in Baird, 1998: 118).
An important area in which cars are implicated in the health of their occupants, is that concerned with the relationship between health and levels of daily activity. The routine use of the car for all kinds of journeys, including trips of a few miles or less (and thus easily achievable for most people on a bike or on foot) is implicated in the remarkably sedentary lifestyles of modern Westerners. Sedentary lifestyles are thought likely to reduce life-length and exacerbate the chances of becoming seriously ill with heart and respiratory diseases (John Roberts, 'Trip Degeneration' in Whitelegg, 1992: 156). While many people think they are too busy to fit an exercise routine into their lives, to use a more 'active' form of travel for shorter trips may take up no more time than the driving alternative (as we shall see again later):
'Walking and cycling are the most appropriate (forms of exercise) from the point of view of their wide scope for take-up across all sections of the population, and for their ability to be maintained throughout life as they can be more readily tied in to the daily routine of travel to school, to work and so on' (John Roberts, 'Trip Degeneration' in Whitelegg, 1992: 156).
Motoring, especially driving in congested traffic, is also increasingly being linked with unhealthy levels of driver-stress, which, as Roberts points out, many motorists react to in a somewhat contradictory way: 'Some deal with this by driving to the health centre for a half hour stint on an exercise bike!' (John Roberts, ibid: 157). By leading sedentary lives which are then 'fixed' by arranging extra time to be fitted in at the gym, such arrangements seem more likely to scrapped when resources of time and/or money are scarce, thus forcing car-travellers back into an unhealthy lifestyle. The idea (probably widely held by non-cyclists) that cycling on the roads is prohibitively dangerous is dismissed by research which shows that the health-benefits of regular cycling more than off-set any increased danger of suffering an accident (Krag, 1989 cited in ibid). In similar vein, the British Medical Association has taken a stance against making the wearing of helmets compulsory for cyclists on the grounds that the overall health benefits are greater if more people cycle than if some are put off cycling by having to buy expensive head-wear (bid).
Of course, it seems likely that the more sedentary peoples lifestyles become, the more unlikely they may be to give up the relative cosyness of their car in favour of some mode of travel which may be in their own, longer-term, health interest. Thus more reliance on the car may lead to greater loss of health resulting conversely, in yet greater use of the car, a cycle which seems likely to be reproduced in the future by the dominance (and routine acceptance) of car travel in children's lives.

Myths of Auto-Mobility
The health problems associated with car-use touched upon above become particularly pertinent when it is considered that a considerable number of car journeys are short trips which could easily be accomplished by moderately healthy people on foot or bicycle. Government statistics (DETR, 1998: 29) point to some three quarters of all journeys being less than five miles and one in four car trips being under two miles. Such a multitude of short trips by car, apart from environmental implications, are also contradictory on the grounds that they aid the tendency towards sedentary lifestyles (and resultant consequential health-threats) and because many motorists believe that such journeys are achieved more quickly by car. But this may be seen as but one of the myths of automobility. Wolf (1996) talks, for example, of 'The Speed myth':
'The speed myth is part of car travel. The great majority of car drivers firmly believe that the car is the fastest way of getting anywhere. The car manufacturers promote this belief by making their cars faster and more powerful every year' (Wolf, 1996: 178).
In real-life travel experiences, the power output or top-speeds that a car is capable of make very little difference to journey times (ibid). The speed myth is also perpetuated by the practice (of both the public and motoring organisations) of calculating journey times purely in terms of place A to place B travel. Wolf draws attention to the fact that time spent on routine car maintenance (including refuelling, washing, lubrication and so on), normally omitted from car travel-times, could add a minimum of some 50 hours a year (ibid: 183). Similarly, the sheer expense of buying and up-keeping a car is such that when speed is calculated in terms of kilometres per hour of lifetime, and this is factored into average speeds of car journeys;.....
'The result is quite amazing: the real average speed achieved by the car society, around 20 km/h, is comparable to that achieved by a very fit cyclist (where the average speed of the cyclist is estimated in the same manner)' (Wolf, 1996: 187).
'A to B' travel times are often quicker by bicycle than car in urban trips of a few miles. Official average speed statistics normally fail to include time spent stopping and starting in traffic jams (ibid: 180-181) let alone time spent by motorists looking for cars in car-parks, strapping themselves in and so on. The tendency to 'up' car journey times can be seen as a kind of countering 'flip-side' to the tendency to completely overlook the often very significant levels non-motorised traffic, not least in the common assumption that the word 'traffic' itself refers only to vehicles with engines, something that shall be dealt with in more depth later.

The contradictory belief that the motorist is leading as 'free' as a life as s/he can, while maintaining a lifestyle which helps promote (their own) poor health, and which may not actually facilitate travel any better, also occurs within a situation in which the motorist is, in a sense, often 'trapped' into a car-dependant lifestyle. The freedoms of a motorist to choose other modes of travel, where more appropriate have often been cut off by their own 'choice' to own a car.So much of the expenditure of owning and running a car is tied up in its initial purchase and annual payments of insurance ad so on that much of any one journey has already been paid for before it starts. In this light, an extra say, bus journey in which a traveller's share of insurance and maintenance for instance is paid for wholly in one ticket purchase seems an irrational 'extra' burden for a motorist who has spend a fortune on their car already, before a journey even begins. So the 'rational' thing for a motorist to do might seem to be to limit themselves to the car alone and use it for every journey.
Furthermore, people who have been brought up being used to travel mainly by car are likely to have chosen where to live and work based on accessibility by car, rather than by any other means. This is particularly apposite in the case of newly 'rural' commuters, who, 'in choosing to move out.....have chosen to have no choice' (Adams, 1996: 223).
Similarly, the supposed freedom involved in the cars rapid A to B movement (see myths of auto-mobility above) is further diminished by any such advantaged being offset by the consequential increases in journey distances. The amount of time spent by Britons travelling each day has actually hardly changed since 1950 (ibid: 225).
Overall, motorists can still be said to occupy a relatively elite position, but the reality of mass motoring and the burdens it brings, along with an increasing awareness of 'down-sides' that motoring bears upon those whose travelling methods are car-orientated, casts doubt onto many of previously held assumptions surrounding the car and freedom.

4) Car Culture and Symbols of Freedom
The idea (or even 'ideal') of individual car ownership is so ingrained in the notions of both the public and industrial realms as to make the car a relevant topic in terms of 'ideology'. Freund and Martin (1993) claim that the routine acceptance of motor domination in the daily lives and thoughts of modern Americans and Europeans is indicative of the existence of an 'Auto-Hegemony' (Freund and Martin, 1993: 61-126). We arguably live in a car culture in which not only travel by car is naturalised, but in which the car has a symbolic significance which makes our (cultural and individual) attachment to it extraordinarily strong, and any attempts to diminish its widespread use seem 'unrealistic', if not perverse.
As suggested earlier, children (for example)- past and present, are/have been brought up with a 'normalised' sense of car travel being at the centre of their lives to the extent that this is not particularly thought about, but is rather experienced as a taken for granted 'fact-of-life':
'Ideologies....come to be taken for granted when they are embodied in various material and cultural forms. For instance, rush hour radio traffic reports reaffirm the centrality of the auto and its "natural" place in our daily lives as the predominant -even the only reasonable- means of mobility' (Freund and Martin, 1993: 81).
Similarly, many maps ('road maps') assume that the viewer will be a motorist and emphasise roads to way beyond scale-widths, while railway lines (let alone numbered bus-routes) may be almost invisible if they are shown at all. This and similar assumptions can become self-fulfilling prophecies in that they facilitate motoring over other travel modes. The assumption that everyone is a motorist has also been taken up (whether implicitly or explicitly) by overt pro-motoring campaigns such as 'The People's Fuel Lobby' ( which makes the words 'person' and 'motorist' effectively equal and interchangeable, thus if you are a 'person' in this society, then you must surely be a 'motorist'?
Bendixson states that 'cars are a marvellous way of getting about, providing that you have one and the rest of the world does not' (Bendixson, 1976: 214). The situation becomes problematic however, when we try to equate individual freedoms while living collectively (Freund and Martin, 1993: 88-89). But the cultural forces which maintain a significant symbolic relationship between 'The Car' and personal freedom are powerful. Cars have been identified as being especially significant in symbolising freedom, and especially that specie of freedom equated with 'Individuality'. They are seen as important tools in displays of status and self-representation (ibid: 86), with perhaps something of a particular symbolic leaning towards representations of masculine power and sexual potency (ibid: 87).
Freund and Martin suggest that the equation of (auto)mobility and freedom has extended, with the maturity of motorway/freeway/autobahn systems with their high-set speed limits, to the equation of speed, - 'the premier cultural icon of modern societies' with 'manliness, progress and dynamism' (ibid: 89).
The gaining of a driving licence is arguably modern societies' equivalent of a 'rite of passage' in which becoming an adult is, for many people (and especially males), exemplified by learning to drive, passing a driving test and gaining a licence to drive under one's own authority, alone. In this way the car stands for both relinquishing parental authority and rebellion against 'authority' in general (ibid: 93). Thus displays of car-control become displays of self-authority, autonomy and freedom in which 'the person's power is amplified by a light touch on the gas pedal' (ibid: 91).
The cultural values associated with the car do not occur in a vacuum but are promoted and (re)affirmed by car advertising, an ally and sub-section of the car industry itself. Car companies invest huge sums on advertising. In a study made in 1996, it was estimated that the average UK television viewer saw more that seven hundred car commercials that year, advertising thirty six different car models (Dwek, 1996. 'Are Car Advertisers Wasting Money?', Campaign, 10 May cited in O'Sullivan, 1998: 288). Though the power of advertising may well be significantly strong, in a sense car adverts can be understood as propping up the social understandings and meanings which the car already possesses, as a cultural icon of the age. The (non-advertising specific) media in general routinely refers to 'traditional' images of the car and driving which 'have become part and parcel of the popular culture of modern times' (O' Sullivan, 1998: 288).
More recently, advertising cars has arguably started to become problematic. There is some feeling that car-advertising is undergoing something of a minor crisis as adverts themselves become 'stale', as they rely on the same tired old messages of status, sex and safety (Baird, 1998: 148). This has resulted in some innovations such as adverts which depict the experience of sitting in a traffic jam, in an air-conditioned 'home-from-home', as being one of serenity and relaxation (ibid: 154). The difficulties involved in promoting cars today may, however, be more deep seated. Sachs argues that:
'The (car-related) dreams are ageing in our day: boredom with motorisation is widespread....Today it is the personal computer, more than the internal combustion engine, that causes excitement' (Sachs, 1992: 8).
It seems that it is not only 'boredom' with the car that has seen the demise of the hay-day of brash car-advertising along with any 'golden age' of motoring itself. Car advertisements now seem to feel the need to defend their environmental credentials and social responsibilities (O'Sullivan, 1998: 295-296). It is likely that we are increasingly facing a 'reality crisis' of modern motoring. Old images involving the successful , high-status motorist who commands the empty highways are moderated by the reality of traffic jams, asthma and obesity. The driver in today's advert is more likely to be the 'caring family man or woman' than the 'selfish go-getter' (ibid), such representations of 'the motorist' as (arguably) increasingly demure, less confident, more defensive and caring perhaps reflects the less confident position in which today's motorist finds him or herself in, as the social and environmental realities of car-domination become harder to ignore.

5) Resistance to Car Dominance: Counter-Symbols of Destruction and Dependance

The Threats of Car-Dominance and their Subsumsion into the Car- Dominant Dynamic

The history of resistance to cars can be seen to a great extent, as a history of a growing car-dominance in which criticisms of motoring have failed to halt the car-dominant dynamic, and may have even supported its authority. Since cars first began to appear on public roads, and a car had to be preceded by a walker carrying a red flag to warn of the oncoming danger (McShane, 1994: 94), there have been restraints to counter cars' perceived negative effects. However, many such restraints have, with the passage of time, been repealed, and those which have remained have arguably helped to legitimate the progression and maintenance of a car-dominant society.
Much of the concern surrounding car-use has revolved around the danger imposed on the public, in which public 'danger' has been successfully remoulded by discourses of road 'safety' (John Roberts, 'Trip Degeneration' in Whitelegg, 1997: 136). The accentuation of 'safety' as opposed to 'danger' is highlighted in the routine use of the word 'accident' in reference to road crashes, a word which tends to promote the idea that the occurrence of such events are unlikely, and unpreventable, in spite of the vast majority of road deaths being the result of driver negligence ( Department of Transport Road Accident Unit cited in Baird, 1998: 88) . 'Accidents' in other forms of transport commonly seem to receive disproportionate levels of media (and thus public) concern leading to a situation in which a one-off train crash which kills a few people can cause public outrage, whilst similar numbers die quietly and anonymously every day on British roads. Victims of roadkill, however, simply seem to have been the unfortunate casualties of normalised and seemingly 'unpreventable accidents'. The cloaking of the death of Princess Diana for example in stories of conspiracy, assassination and harassment by paparazzi conceal the more 'mundane' truth that she died in an all too typical Twentieth century way - death on the road.
While there have always been attempts to make cars less-dangerous (or 'safer' to use the more conventional term), this has partly resulted in the emergence and strengthening of a powerful road lobby. The road lobby consists of car manufacturers, the oil industry (and its many related industries), road-hauliers, motoring organisations and motorists. Arguably, one major success of the road lobby is the fixing in the general public's mind that 'we are all motorists now' (Plowden, 1973: 372), perhaps to the extent that even non-motorists believe it, and so feel a greater urge (still) to become a motorist like 'everyone else', when possible.
Car-restraining forces however, developed alongside the emerging car-culture. The feeling that 'the power of the motoring organisations was out of all proportion to that of their disorganised victims' (Plowden, 1973: 271) lead, for example, to the development of The Pedestrians Association in Britain in the 1930s (ibid). Early attempts to reduce motor-induced dangers through the likes of speed-limits and drink-driving laws were confronted by indignant accusations from pro-motoring organisations that 'intolerable restrictions' were being burdened onto the motorist (Plowden, 1973: 269) and even compared with Stalinist Russia (ibid). Limits on speed were argued by 'The Motor' magazine as burdening those (elites) who were creating wealth and (then, as now) already paying more than their dues in the form of 'exorbitant taxes', 'creating more offences and more penalties among a class who already paid millions of pounds in excessive taxation' ( ibid: 281).
While such restrictions have been successfully and continually applied, they nevertheless occurred within a background in which car-domaintion proliferated and the favouring of cars in transport systems continued. It was believed in some quarters that the numbers of cars on the road would reach a 'saturation point' (Plowden, 1973: 362) and that remedies to car-induced problems would naturally catch up with the car-owning population (ibid). Such attitudes may have partly bolstered the (now discredited) policies of 'predict and provide' which dominated road building programs in Britain right into the early 1990s (Whitlegg, 1997: 88). So while gains were made, in terms of increasing legal restrictions on motoring, such gains were made in the name of 'road safety' and thus have arguably and conversely, helped legitimate the emergence, proliferation and dominance of an inherently destructive car-first transport system.

Car-Domination as an Environmental Threat
This is not the place for descriptions of the effects of cars on the physical environment, which are detailed greatly elsewhere anyway. What is of important in terms of this study, is the significance of the emergence of the idea that the car represents a threat to the environment (when we talk of 'the environment'' in perhaps, its broadest sense, including the social environment), and the impact of such an idea, and the symbols which surround it, on orientations towards transport and (thus) transport policies.
The era of the car as an unabashed object of desire, in which its proliferation into every corner of society is perceived as wholeheartedly welcome, must surely now be over. The dream of the car as an ultimate symbol of personal (as well as national/political) freedom is increasingly being undermined by the contradictions of such (perceived) freedoms (discussed at length earlier) and their increasing emergence in the public realm. The certainties that the car brought, in its representation as an icon of technological optimism is now shrouded in uncertainty and suspicion.
The knowledge that driving cars short journeys (the most common kind, as we have seen), say, to buy the morning papers, may be (taken together), a major contributor to global climatic change, is potentially a little disturbing to the daily rituals of affluent, Western living. The world might be becoming a little strange, a bit topsy-turvy, as even the most powerful of the pro-oil and pro-motor industry giants seem to feel the need to brandish their 'green' credentials. Ulrich Beck suggested that one major victory that the Green movement can claim, is the universal 'compulsion to perform ecological lip service' (Beck, 1992A: 340), and this universality now extends even to the most archetypal of world polluters.
A case in point is that of the oil giant, B.P. ("British Petroleum"), who have recently rebranded their motto as 'Beyond Petroleum'. Such tokenism predictably makes the company a target for environmentalists. Greenpeace duly responded by pointing out that the company spent more on their logo-rebrand than they are investing into renewable energy sources (Terry Macalister & Elanor Cross in The Guardian, 25/07/2000) while playfully declaring that the company name really stands for 'Burning the Planet' (ibid). While corporate moves such as this may no doubt, have more to with with cynical commercial image-marketing than with any genuine concern, they nevertheless draw attention to the extent to which societal values are changing:
'Underneath all the hype is thought to be an acceptance that the traditional image of the oil company has become a negative one in the hearts and minds of the consumer' (Terry Macalister, The Guardian, 29/07/2000).

While such corporations change image rather more than they change their destructive activities, this is nevertheless an interesting step. B.P. is, so far, the only oil company to acknowledge the likelihood of human-induced climate-change, a fact which may make us question whether this is because such a step, may be, for an oil company, a dangerous one. Once again the contradictory nature of present-day symbols are revealed, as the prime movers of recent historical 'progress' begin to subvert their own previous meanings, and the certainties of yesterday become the uncertainties, and potential threats, of today (see Beck, 1992B).

The More Things Change, the More they Stay the Same?
However, it is also not without significance that another reaction to B.P.'s expensive re-branding was that of the road lobby, said to be 'up in arms, complaining that the cash should have been used for lowering petrol station prices' (Terry Macalister, The Guardian, 29/07/2000). As awareness of the environmental impact of widespread car-use has grown, certain measures have been put into practise under the guise of 'increasing transport choice' or 'reducing car-dependency'. But as such schemes are initiated, cars continue to be used more and more, the car-dominance trend remains resolutely un-bucked.
It could be argued that Britain has started (to some extent), to use other European countries as a template (albeit in a toned-down way) in the instigation of some recent transport projects. A system of cycle routes is being built into a national network (see amid worries that the availability of some optional cycle paths may lead some motorists to feel that cyclists do not belong on the road (which is often the more convenient option for a confident cyclist). Indeed, considering the growth of off-road cycling as a recreational activity (as opposed to a utilitarian one), it seems likely that some of off-road cycle routes may be likely to generate car-traffic as families access sites for leisure-riding (on hired bikes, or with bikes attached to a car). Similarly, 'park and ride' schemes (where motorists park and then take a bus into urban centres), while taking thousands of cars out of cities, probably also promote suburbanisation (and the consequential increases in car-use) through effectively 'advertising' such facilities to suburban populations, and encouraging them to drive to the edge of town (Baird, 1998: 171-172). 'Park and ride' represents an important aspect of the present governments transport policy (DETR. 2000: 57).
'New Labour' came to power, promising an improved transport network, saying that 'present levels of growth in car usage are unsustainable' (DETR. 2000: 59). The government's policies are focused on large scale projects (such as rail-infrastructure investment) and on reducing 'congestion', an orientation which is both bound to please motorists (who wish to fulfil the 'dreams' of free-travel on the open road, as promised in the advertisements), and may be fundamentally flawed in terms of most people's transport needs:
'Big projects and modernisation are all very well, but the vast bulk of journeys are not commuter journeys from city to city, but shorter, more complex, journeys by ordinary people....that is why (community-based charities and environmentalists) favoured investment in bus and cycle lanes, speed reduction, home zones, and safe routes to school .' (Ros Coward, The Guardian, 21/07/2000).
There is a feeling that Labour, ultimately, have given in to the political power of the motoring lobby. In concentrating on freeing-up traffic congestion, and a new commitment to building 'relief roads' (ibid), the message can be taken as one of re-affirmation to motoring freedom. Whatever the intention, after two years in office Labour had already presided over an almost 10% increase in motorised traffic on major roads (David Gow, The Guardian, 6/08/1999).
Perhaps the most damning evidence for the failure of modern transport systems to genuinely tackle car-prioritisation, is found in countries which are often elevated as models of 'ecological modernisation' (see Dryzek, 1997: 137-154). In Munich during the 1980s for example, policies focused on tacking congestion, traffic calming, computerised traffic management, greatly improved provision for cycling and other facilities for 'coherent alternatives to the car' ( Hajer & Kesselring, 1999: 1-23). However, the period continued to see increasing intensity of both localised car-usage and that travelling into, and out of the city. The attractiveness of such policies to the motoring lobby is suggested by the close involvement of the BMW car company in the formation of the strategies (ibid). The company was convinced that cities like Munich were close to their maximum car-traffic capacity, and that going beyond this capacity would not be in a car manufacturers' interest as the (business) costs of mobility might increase, the attractiveness of such cities might diminish in terms of overseas business investment and 'if car traffic is primarily associated with congestion, car traffic might lose its attractiveness as the optimal means of mobility altogether' (ibid). So even a country seen as taking seriously the task of creating an integrated transport system, remains fundamentally car dominated, and even becomes increasingly so.

6) Conclusions
Reclaiming The Streets
As has been suggested earlier, the word 'traffic' in its normalised use, tends to refer only to motorised traffic, and not, for instance, pedestrians or cyclists. It is occasionally pointed out that such groups are also frequently missed out of official statistics. There is evidence to suggest that urban cycling has increased in some cities through the 1980s and 1990s (Wolf, 1996: 163), (probably through its obvious convenience over stationary cars in peak travel periods) and surveys have shown that in Britain, three quarters of trips of less than a mile are made on foot or bicycle (John Roberts, 'Trip Degeneration' in Whitelegg, 1992: 159). Journeys under a mile are conventionally excluded from the National Travel Survey and other data sources used as a basis for policy formation (ibid), thus distorting the official view of travel patterns. The practice of ignoring non-motorised traffic even occurs on colossal scales, as shown in the case of the World Bank's study of transport in China '...for which the final report did not even mention the word "bicycle" despite the fact that there are over 400 million of them in the country' (ibid: 162). In Britain, journeys by foot or bike outnumber those on trains and buses by three to one (ibid: 166). These are the most 'benign' forms of travel and the most ignored.
The battlecry from some organisations of non-motorised groups to 'reclaim the streets' can be though of, in part, as an attempt to counter the organised ignorance of their existence (and importance) by official bodies. It is also partly an attempt to draw attention to the manifest contradictions and irrationalities (detailed in this study) of transport systems bias towards one particular form of elite and destructive mode of travel. Indeed for many at what might be called the 'deeper green' end of environmental political thinking and action, 'the car' may be seen as a kind of anti-icon, an ultimate symbol of capitalistic consumption which links corporate and individualised modes of destruction, the antithesis of previous 'Fordist' constructions of the social meaning of 'the car'.

What Chance Change?

'The Demise of the car', as Nicola Baird has pointed out, ' reports of Mark Twain's death....has been exaggerated' (Baird, 1998: 226). The social, political and historical forces which (have, and continue to) promote and maintain car-domination in transport systems of developed countries are immensely powerful. The car has stood as a symbol of capitalist growth and success, and this has strengthened its promotion by states, already bolstered by the very real (shorter-term) advantages that mass auto-transportation brings to a capitalist system. In the social realm, cars are associated with images of success, power, wealth, independence, sexual potency and rebellion, in a word, 'freedom'. Furthermore, It has been argued here that accepted 'down-sides' of automobility have resulted in restraints (occurring within the contexts of 'road-safety' and 'technological progress') which in some ways actually legitimate the (mass) use of cars and thus further promote their domination.
However, 'the car' is presently undergoing something of an image crisis. Countering images of destruction to both social and ecological environments increasingly surround mass auto-transportation, and such images are occurring within a relatively new context of 'dependancy' as opposed to 'freedom'. Thus car-use as a taken-for-granted part of everyday life has become deeply problematised, and while the social/political framework which make car-use seem desirable remains, this is now undermined to an extent by these countering images, images which disturb the confident 'dream' of car-travel as an ultimate saviour of individual and national freedoms. There is tremendous inertia behind car-domination in the transportation systems of the wealthy nations, but the previously-held confidence in auto-domination is, perhaps, melting.


Adams, J. (1996). 'Carmageddon ' in Barnett, A. and Scruton, R. (Eds.), (1998). Town and Country, London: Jonathan Cape.
Baird, N. (1998). The Estate We're In: Who's Driving Car Culture?, London: Indigo.
Beck, U. (1992A). 'From Industrial Society to the Risk Society: Questions of Survival, Social Structure and Ecological Enlightenment' in Dryzek, J.S. & Schlosberg, D.(Eds.), (1999). Debating the Earth, The Environmental Politics Reader, 2nd ed', Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Beck, U. (1992B). Risk Society, Towards a New Modernity, London: Sage.
Bendixson, T. (1976). Instead of Cars, 2nd, ed', Harmondsworth: Penguin.
Department of the Environment, Transport and the Regions. (1998). A New Deal For Transport: Better For Everyone, London: HMSO.
Department of the Environment, Transport and the Regions. (2000). Environment, Transport and The Regions Final Policy Report, London: HMSO.
Dix, M.C., Carpenter, S.M., Clarke, M.I., Pollard, H.R.T. and Spencer, M.B. (1986). Car Use, A Social and Economic Study, Aldershot : Gower.Dryzek, J.S. (1997). The Politics of the Earth, Environmental Discourses, Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Flink, J. (1970). America Adopts the Automobile, 1895-1910, Cambridge/Massachusetts: The Mit Press.
Freund, P. & Martin, P. (1993). The Ecology Of The Automobile, Quebec: Black Rose Books.
McShane, C. (1994). Down The Asphalt Path, The Automobile and the American City, New York: Columbia University Press.
O' Sullivan, Tim. 'Transports of Difference and Delight: Advertising and the Motor Car in Twentieth-Century Britain', in Thoms, D., Holden, L. and Claydon, T. (Eds.), (1998). The Motor Car and Popular Culture in the 20th Century, Aldershot/Brookfield: Ashgate Publishing.
Paterson, M. (2000). 'Car Culture and Global Environmental Politics', Review of International Studies (2000), Vol. 26, pp.253-70.
Plowden, W. (1973). The Motor Car And Politics In Britain, 2nd Edition, Harmondsworth: Penguin.
Sachs, W. (1992). For Love of the Automobile, Berkeley: University of California Press.
Whitelegg, J. (Ed.), (1992). Traffic Congestion, Is there a way out?, Hawes: Leading Edge Press and Publishing.
Whitelegg, J. (1997). Critical Mass, Transport, Environment and Society in the Twenty-first Century, London: Pluto.
Wolf, W. (1996). Car Mania: A Critical History Of Transport, London: Pluto.

Newspaper Articles
David Gow, 'Prescott in new jam over traffic', The Guardian, 06/08/1999.Chris Hewett, 'Drivers Should Pay', The Guardian, 14/09/2000.Terry Macalister & Eleanor Cross, 'BP rebrands on a global scale', The Guardian, 25/07/2000.Terry Macalister, 'Oil company looks beyond petroleum', The Guardian, 29/07/2000.
Internet Sources
Democracy in the Risk Society?, Learning from the New Politics of Mobility in Munichin, Marten Hajer & Sven Kesselring;;19/11/00. 1999. (Also in Environmental Politics, no. 3, pp.1-23.)The Guardian Unlimited,; 25/07/2000.The National Cycle Network,; 22/04/2001.The People's Fuel Lobby,; 22/04/2001.

An interview-based study on vegetarianism

Vegetarian views encapsulate a fundamental dichotomy between romantic images of nature and darker aspects of animality. In interviews, a sample of vegetarians revealed a tension between views of what our relationship with animals ought to be (a relationship of respect as fellow animals ourselves) while admitting the "naturalness" , to some extent, of cruelty.

While there has been much work by theorists on the subject of social constructions of nature, it proved difficult to find any research whatever in the specific area of vegetarian's decisions to refuse meat on moral grounds, or the grounds, shall we say, of animal rights.
The emergence of animal rights as a relatively modern phenomenon must be explained, at least in part, by a changing view of nature or more specifically, changing perceptions of what animals are, and thus, what it is to be human in our relationship(s) with animals, [or perhaps from a non-anthropocentric standpoint; with "other animals"].
Differing theories exist on the historical change in conceptions of nature and the rise of animal rights, and it was thought that by gaining an insight into the actual feelings of some of those involved at the forefront of this trend [vegetarians], it might be possible to get closer to revealing how these theories actually play out in the perception of vegetarians themselves.

It has been noted before that in the case of the Green movement in general, the differences in perspectives and attitudes of its members can be seen, in some senses, as being too diverse to be thought of a coherent whole (see Dobson, 1995 & Young, 1993: 93-106). So an attempt has been made to throw out any pre-conceptions that all vegetarians have become so for the same reason. Even though only those who had refused meat on the grounds of animal suffering had been selected [for some people can be assumed to be vegetarians for purely health, taste or religious reasons for instance], it was not pre-supposed that moral vegetarians necessarily shared an identical view of their relationship with other species [or an identical view of "nature"].
For Adrian Franklin, the majority of modern Western people can be described as being increasingly sympathetic towards animals (Franklin, 1999). But amongst those categorised as going further than being merely sympathetic are those who regard themselves as being "closer to nature" in some sense, and in this category, under Franklin's heading of "nature-lovers", come two, perhaps surprising bedfellows; firstly the animal rights brigade, who;
... care a great deal about the plight of animals in the modern world and support some sort of action towards achieving animal liberation from humans.[and secondly];
the neo-Darwinians, many of whom would be active hunters. These people are not sentimental but are nature lovers and feel they have a natural, real relation with animals (Emphasis added, ibid: 32-33).
Franklin's analysis then, tends towards an acknowledgement of the post-modern phenomenon of the "blurring of boundaries", in this case the blurring of the species boundary that traditionally strongly separated humans from non-human animals. This is also a prime motivation for theorists like Singer who urges a recognition of animal rights on the grounds of their similitude with us (Singer, 1990). As Singer puts it, the need to recognise the rights of animals is about the recognition of "....the tyranny of human over non human animals" (ibid: i) and thus by implication, the fact as he sees it, of our own membership of the animal kingdom.
Keith Tester however, in his analysis of the origin of the rise of the modern animal rights phenomenon, emphasises the influences of discourses of rights that are a continuation of the extension of rights to groups of "others" in the past such as those across gender and race boundaries. Tester's work takes a long term historical perspective that in some ways follows on from Elias's ideas on "the civilising process" (Elias, 1978), and thus can be read as a description of continuous historical change without the application of any genuine increase in underlying levels of morality . There is an implication in Tester's work that the animal rights protagonists are also acting at least in part, to affirm their status a moral beings or to put it another way; to affirm their status as humans :
If, one day, a lion were to stroll up to one of the protagonists of its rights and say, in perfect grammar, 'Hello, thank you for helping me', the reaction would probably be one of utter horror. It is easier, more comforting, and far more superior, to talk about the rights or liberation of things that cannot answer back. (Tester, 1991: 208)
In this way, Tester seems to be taking a contrary position to Franklin and the like in asserting the extent to which the modern conception of nature or animals is to do with a strengthening of the species boundary and an increase of categorical distinction.
Another set of ideas, the influence of which might be thought interesting to explore in the interviewees, are those that emanate from what John Urry calls "the romantic gaze" (Urry, 199x). The romantic period has been greatly influential on the English and is caught up, along with the works of the great poets and landscape painters, with England's national identity. In tandem with these influences lies Rousseau's description of "the noble savage" who has rediscovered [or maintained] his [or her] animality and communes with the perfection and beauty of nature, something that as inhabitants of modernity, many of us seem to feel we have lost touch with and perhaps long for.

The approach, as interviewer, was one as an insider. The fact that I am a vegetarian was highlighted in the introductory letter [appendix B]. I would expect that were a meat-eater to interview vegetarian subjects on their vegetarianism, interviewees would probably be more likely to be "on the defensive" and suspicious of the researcher's motives. However, the introductory letter was designed to give only a very broad overview, so as to avoid leading interviewees into pre-thought-out answers they feel that they ought to give.
The meetings took the form of semi-structured, verging on unstructured interviews. This was because the research is qualitative, based around the feelings and experiences of the people involved, not something that quantitative research can reveal effectively. An interview guide was designed, but some of the questions were only really there to keep the conversation going, and many of them were covered anyway during the course of the conversations, but the main area of interest that was continually prompted at was the process of making the decision to become vegetarian, and the experiences perceived as influencing that decision.
The subjects were found originally through an environmental pressure group with the intention of finding a likelihood of some who had given up meat products on moral, animal suffering grounds, and then through wider vegetarian friends and associates who were outside this initial group. In fact, one person who was suggested to me as a possible interviewee told me that she mainly became a vegetarian because she never liked the taste of meat, and so was inappropriate for this study.
Four subjects were interviewed at length [up to an hour], ranging in age from early twenties to mid fifties. Only one man was interviewed, the majority of vegetarians that I came across being women. Their "career" activities ranged through undergraduate studies, retail, managerial work and in writing/the arts. The interviews took place wherever they "felt most comfortable" [they were asked about this before arranging the meetings] so that they would be most at ease, which turned out to be, in two cases, within the interviewees own homes and in the remaining subjects, outside in university campus grounds and one in a town park.

Findings. [Note; pseudonyms are used. "R" = Researcher/ interviewer]
First perceived influences on their decisions however, were quite diverse. "John", the oldest interviewee, remembers a particularly harrowing event while on a work visit to Italian libraries back in 1971:
John- ...we had to visit a library of a medical institute of some kind where research was being done on animals and I saw a rat being experimented on, a white rat...
R- You actually saw it?
John- Yes, I saw the actual experiment take place could say the rat was being crucified, if i could put it that way, it's rooted into our culture, and I fled, I couldn't stand to look at it. .....But it took a long time before I decided to become a vegetarian.
All of the interviewees described the process of becoming a vegetarian as a gradual, step by step process, mainly graduated through a kind of learning curve based on information about animal products:
Sue- It was sort of a gradual thing really, y' get more awareness about things as you start realising what happens, so you don't want to eat it. You learn more and more.
R- More and more....?
Sue- ...about all sorts of stuff, what's going down in....well the whole process and stuff....and then you start thinking "well if i'm not eating it, I shouldn't be wearing it" so I stopped wearing leather.____________________
Dawn- was a gradual process. It took a couple of years, umm.......mainly because I didn't realise what things were meat and what things weren't.
"Fiona" sees a vegetarian friend of hers as being influential on her decision:

Fiona- Yeah it was a friend, yes it was X, 'cos she was always veggie', well she didn't go on and on about it like, she made me realise that by eating meat.....what I was actually eating, even though growing up my granddad was a farmer and everything but it varies, I sort of....I knew what I was eating but I didn't think what the conditions they'd been kept in, how they'd been killed and everything and once I realised that I thought no, I don't want to eat meat anymore.
The fundamental reasons all the interviewees gave for their decision not to eat animals can be seen as basically twofold; firstly through feelings of empathy and fellowship with them and secondly (remembering that the sample were members of environmental groups or their friends/associates), wider connections were made with what "John" called "the pattern of life", a powerful image and a part of the environmental discourse :

John- I feel great solidarity with them [animals], err....I regard them as being part of the whole pattern of life on Earth and I feel fellowship with them and I don't want any harm to come to them whatsoever.____________________
Sue- ...I think to a certain extend they've got, well.....just as much right to live as we have and probably more than we have 'cos we're busy destroying what we've got while they're just getting on with life.
Another underlying pattern of reasoning found in the answers given were emotional reasons, that is; emotional contact and closeness with animals. As Franklin's studies have indicated, the modern period has seen an increase both in amount and intensity of contact between humans and animals (Franklin, 1999: 175). For all of the subjects it was a case of "making the connection" between their own activities, and the effect on the animals they "loved" and had had close contact with:
Fiona- I'd always loved animals but, i'd always eaten meat and then it suddenly dawned on me that I was eating the animals that I loved.____________________
Dawn- If somebody thought the same way as me, then they wouldn't eat animals, I don't condemn people for eating animals, I think.....they just haven't made the connection that i've made.____________________
John- ...being in the countryside a great deal, cycling and coming across lambs, lambs sometimes chased after me or sometimes.....on one occasion I captured, so to speak, a lamb in order to give it back to it's mother, and this contact, with lambs initially.......made me decide not to eat lambs.
The interviewees shared in their normative accounts of their demands for "rights" for animals, an argument in line with Rousseau, many of the Romantics, and others who have argued a "demand for similitude" (see Tester, 1991 & Franklin, 1999: 177-178) with the animals. Rousseau painted an image of humanity blighted, and imbued with brutish behaviour as a result of society, whereas alone in the woods, the "noble savage" (Rousseau, 1931) had recovered his [or her] natural state of being, close to nature and a rediscovered sense of gentleness mirrored, in this view, in the animal world. "Dawn", perhaps reflecting some of these romantic ideals, talked about her feelings of "purity" as a non meat-eater:
Dawn- ..I remember the teacher saying it takes your bones seven years to completely........regenerate, yeah? and umm.....I was thinking, well, in that case, after seven years of not eating something, you'll no longer consist of that. Today I don't feel as if I consist of any part of any animal.
R- But you are an animal ?
Dawn- I know I am an animal but i'm made up of......I haven't been produced by causing the deaths of other creatures,.......and it makes you feel kind of pure, d'you know what I mean?
Thus something of a paradox is revealed in the desire to be on the one hand; at one , as it were, with animals and at the same time deny certain aspects of animality. "Dawn" squared this circle by asserting a closer alignment with some animals than with others;...
Dawn- Not every animal on the planet is an omnivore or a carnivore, there are lots of animals on the planet that are herbivores, and I am one of those. I am psychologically a herbivore.
Rousseau, and indeed many contemporary vegetarian organisations have pointed out aspects of human anatomy that suggest a naturallyvegetarian [to use a more political term] or herbivorous [to use a more scientific tern] lifestyle (Fraklin, 1999: 178). "John" similarly said he felt more sympathetic towards herbivores than carnivores , while "Sue" and "Fiona" both saw a cruel side to nature:
Sue- If you're living in some sort of like, society with just ten of you in the woods or whatever, maybe you would, and y'know, maybe you should (kill for food), because you know, that's what other animals do.____________________
Fiona- .....someone who's in the forest in 200 acres and got no opportunity of getting anything else really, they've got no resources of their own and the only way to get resources is to go out and kill something then yeah, because at least that animal has been living in the wild up to that point, I mean, nature's quite cruel on animals anyway."

Evaluations and Conclusions.
So vegetarians in this sample seem to reflect something of a romantic backlash against the industrial processes applied to animals rather than being against all animal cruelty per-se. "Sue", for instance, said she thought organically produced meat was "slightly better", but the important point is that she thought it is better and "Dawn" was most of all against intensive farming and when talking about "natural" hunting for food she replied; "i'm more against someone buying something from Safeways".
Qualitative research on such a complex issue is both fascinating and useful for general theorising, but such a sample is simply too small to extend-out and apply to the vegetarian population as a whole. It is also a particularly difficult area in which to work because the vegetarian cause is political as, well as being a social phenomenon surrounded by it's own set of powerful discourses in which many vegetarians are well versed. This means it might be difficult to separate feelings , and views from normative diatribe.
It is possible that another source of the dichotomy between what can be summarised as the romantic image of nature and some of the "crueler" aspects may in part, stem from a twofold desire, upheld by many vegetarians [and especially environmentalist vegetarians like the ones in this sample]; firstly, a desire to respect the rights of animals and secondly; to respect the rights of indigenous populations of people, in developing countries for example, some [perhaps most] of whom would be unlikely to take on the vegetarian view, as vegetarianism [at least in this form] is particularly modern and Western. To put it crudely, in terms of how far cultures should be allowed to carry out animal cruelty, it might be found that a little more leeway is given to "traditional" or "tribal" cultures than to white, western fox hunters for example in a form of inverted racism that idealises the former group as being closer to "the noble savage". This is presently speculative but could be an interesting avenue for research.
Copyright Jonathan Tarplee 1999.


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Copyright Jonathan Tarplee 1999