Degree Name

Bachelor of Science (Honours)


School of Earth & Environmental Sciences


Gordon Waitt


Climate change scientists have identified the private automobile as one of the most important sources of greenhouse gas emissions. Many civic environmentalists are advocating for alternative forms of transport to the private car in climate change mitigation policies, including walking, cycling and mass transit systems. Yet, many people in affluent societies appear wed to their cars. In this thesis a cultural geography approach is adopted to account for the resistance to changing modes of transport. The thesis adopts a performative framework to explore how particular understandings of climate change, sustainability and place are configured through driving practices. The interpretation offered draws on the concepts of ‘a progressive sense of place’, ‘the spatial imperative of subjectivity’ and ‘the ecology of place’. The data analyses for this research are drawn from forty surveys, as well as a range of qualitative methods, including informal interviews, participant diaries, and ‘drive talk’ experiences with twelve participants from the affluent Sydney suburb of Burraneer Bay. This analysis introduces the importance of embodied knowledge to discussion of climate change mitigation policies. Results illustrate that car mobility in this affluent suburb is not configured by economics – but rather life cycles, and the experiences of comfort, convenience and safety. Tempting drivers to abandon their cars for public transport will remain problematic unless closer consideration is given to how geographical knowledge is configured by driving.

FoR codes (2008)

160403 Social and Cultural Geography, 160404 Urban and Regional Studies (excl. Planning), 160499 Human Geography not elsewhere classified



Unless otherwise indicated, the views expressed in this thesis are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of the University of Wollongong.