The car, and the range of social and political institutions which sustain its dominance, play an important role in many of the environmental problems faced by contemporary society. But in order to understand the possibilities for moving towards sustainability and 'greening cars', it is first necessary to understand the political forces that have made cars so dominant. This book identifies these forces as a combination of political ecomy and cultural politics. From the early twentieth century, the car became central to the organization of capitalism and deeply embedded in individual identities, providing people with a source of value and meaning but in a way which was broadly consistent with social imperatives for mobility. Projects for sustainability to reduce the environmental impacts of cars are therefore constrained by these forces but must deal with them in order to shape and achieve their goals.
Matthew Paterson is Professor of Political Science in the School of Political Studies at the University of Ottawa. He is the author of Understanding Global Environmental Politics: Domination, Accumulation, Resistance (2000), Energy Exporters and Climate Change (with Peter Kassler, 1997) and Global Warming and Global Politics (1996).
Winner of BISA International Political Economy Group Book Prize 2008.