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Panel 46. Navigating Spaces of Power. The Everyday Conflicts and Paradoxes of Public Transport.


  • Federico La Bruna, Università degli Studi di Milano Statale, Università degli Studi di Torino


The urban transportation infrastructure serves as the framework, sinews, and lifeblood of contemporary metropolises, governing the daily rhythms of its users. Its ability to manipulate time and space elevates it to the status of a powerful instrument, a central figure in the urban landscape. Nevertheless, public transportation, given its status as a public space (Kębłowski et al., 2021), also embodies an everyday locus of power, an agora, a stage where power dynamics intermingle (Bourdieu, 2018). Since the outset of 2020, transportation systems in most cities have grappled with the transformations of public spaces due to the impact of COVID-19. While the spatial aspect of public transportation is not a recent development, this crisis has unveiled the discrepancies in public transport like never before. Public transportation spaces are now perceived as social beyond their functions, and social conflicts have risen to prominence: issues of gender, class, and culture lay bare the disparities between the service’s design and the user’s experience. Our objective is to bring together diverse perspectives on how these micro-level conflicts and paradoxes within public transportation coexist with the increasing demand for large- scale transportation system design. We invite submissions that delve into the experiential dimension of these conflicts and explore their broader interactions within the transportation systems of major metropolises in both the global North and South, adopting a comparative or cross-country lens. We aim to stimulate discussions regarding violence, inequalities, and segregation (both its temporal and spatial dimensions). Submissions should offer innovative approaches and viewpoints that enhance our understanding of the above presented phenomena and their far-reaching consequences. This can be achieved by investigating questions similar to those outlined below:

  • What cultural, economic, social, political, and urban conflicts arise from the urban travel experience? We welcome new case studies and in-depth examinations ranging from analyses of the temporal segregation of women (Vitrano et , 2019) to issues of accessibility for individuals with limited mobility, from the exploration the travel experience as a consumer to the investigation of the gentrification processes associated with transportation system expansion.
  • How do everyday conflicts within public transportation influence mobility practices and relationships?
  • What are the implications of these conflicts, and how are they addressed in terms of design and management?

We invite submissions that explore these inquiries and seek to facilitate interdisciplinary dialogue encompassing a wide range of methodologies, including ethnographic, theoretical, affective, visual, and creative approaches.

Centro de Estudios de Conflicto y Cohesión Social.

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