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The project group on Mobility studies societal, organizational, and political aspects of physical mobility and the interactions between these dimensions. Some of the main issues are:

  • the future of the “vision of mobility”: Innovative forms of mobility with different and possibly new kinds of vehicles in the context of new demands on organizational change and organizational learning in the global automotive industry.
  • causes and consequences of changes in organizations, political regulation, and user demand in present and future public transport in Germany and abroad.
  • the sociology of transport: systemic links between modernity and mobility, including the change in demand and the entrepreneurial reorganization of leisure travel in a global perspective.

Literally, automobility means the capacity for self-locomotion. This understanding of the word could subsume practically all of classical modernism. There is a dialectic relationship between transport, particularly motorized private transport, and the expanded alternatives for action in modern societies. Social individualization and the diversity and fragmentation of life styles have consequences for the organization of transport. In turn, quick and flexibly available means of transport, such as the automobile, broaden the scope of an individual's alternatives and promote social differentiation.

This interaction of social and technological developments is the point of departure for the questions and hypotheses formulated by the project group on mobility. This approach calls into question cherished certainties about environmental research on transport. Travel time and the frequency with which a given route is taken have fluctuated for decades, and classical forms of local and long-distance public transport cannot optimally meet individual needs for transportation. Nor have cars lost any of their attraction, despite their prevalence and the traffic jams in which their users become trapped. Nonetheless, the adverse impacts of ever increasing volume of automobile traffic clearly have to be contained. A proactive transport policy is therefore essential. As yet, however, the shift by which the choice of the means of transport is to be directed away from the car and toward trams, trains, buses and bicycles is not taking place. Appeals to use these alternative forms of transport instead of cars are going largely unheard, for transport in modern societies is an expression of the individual's expanded options and even a diversifying social practice.