CfP: Shaping Passenger Conduct in Public Transport Environments

Online workshop, Wednesday, 16 November 13:00-16:00 (EET)

Organised by Christoph Schimkowsky (University of Sheffield/Åbo Akademi University) and Silja Laine (University of Turku/ Åbo Akademi University)

Download the Call for Papers here.

The behaviour of public transport users can sometimes become problematic or be perceived as such. Passengers skip queues, block seats on crowded trains, and listen to loud music, making public transport environments a principal location in which urban dwellers encounter ‘rude strangers’ in their everyday lives (Smith, Phillips and King 2010). As public transport users – highly diverse individuals with divergent mobility goals – are ‘stuck’ with each other for the duration of their journeys, such lack of adherence to codes of commuter conduct can cause discomfort and annoyance to fellow passengers (Jain 2011; Watts 2008), potentially discouraging public transport usage (Stradling et al. 2007). Furthermore, passengers blocking doors, navigating stations while intoxicated, or evading fares can affect the efficiency, safety, and profitability of transport operations.

Aware of these potential repercussions, public transport providers and associated actors employ a range of media technologies to tackle passenger behaviours they perceive as problematic, inappropriate, or otherwise undesirable. For example, transport companies employ posters, notices, signs, and announcements to convey the behavioural expectations and rules which (supposedly) govern conduct in spaces of urban mass transit. In addition to this, public transport environments are frequently the stage for public communication initiatives by civil society actors aiming to influence broader aspects of citizen attitudes and conduct (e.g. through public health and anti- discrimination campaigns). Despite the prevalence of semiotic interventions in everyday conduct in urban public transport environments globally, they are rarely the focus of dedicated scholarly inquiries (but see Moore 2011; Padoan 2014; Rink 2022; Schimkowsky 2021; Ureta 2012). This workshop seeks to address this oversight by bringing together researchers from across the social sciences and humanities who study endeavours to shape passenger conduct in diverse public transport environments.

We invite contributions related to topics including but not limited to the following interrelated themes:

  • The creation of media artefacts promoting desirable passenger conduct or discouraging misbehaviours, as well as visual, semiotic, and/or linguistic examinations of such texts
  • Public transport environments as stage of efforts seeking to shape broader citizen attitudes and codes of conduct
  • The historical, cultural, and political contexts of efforts to guide and direct passenger behaviour, as well as links to other civilising campaigns and actors
  • Potential repercussions of media initiatives problematising passenger conduct (e.g. marginalisation)
  • Passengers’ perception of and potential resistance to efforts seeking to shape transport user behaviour in varied geographical and historical settings

Please send abstracts of no more than 200 words to Chris Schimkowsky (ch.schimk(a)gmail.com) by Saturday, 16 October 2022. Please do not hesitate to get in touch in case you have any questions.

Note: The workshop is part of a fellowship which is funded by the project “Public transport as public space in European cities: Narrating, experiencing, contesting (PUTSPACE)”. PUTSPACE is financially supported by the HERA Joint Research Programme which is co-funded by AKA, BMBF via DLRPT, ETAg, and the European Commission through Horizon 2020. There is no registration fee.

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