Contradictions of Sustainable Mobility - The Illogic of Growth and the Logic of Myth

Maja Essebo, Guy Baeten

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

19 Citations (SciVal)


This paper presents the prospects of viewing sustainable mobility as a merger of seemingly opposing values and ideas into a coherent and fully emplotted myth. Myth, in this sense, is not a false story meant to amuse or discredit, but rather a story based on naturalised beliefs giving it the supremacy of the obvious. Through the process of emplotment, myths create internal logics that help relieve anxiety, rationalise behaviour and naturalise societal and individual convictions. As such, myths are a fundamental and habitual part of life. The myth of sustainable mobility is not one, but two stories that of development as quantitative growth and the discourse of sustainability which are merged, emplotted and naturalised. It is based on the fears of economic and environmental collapse, but while fear is an essential characteristic of myth and a source of much of its power the myth also offers hope. The hope lies in the promise of continued trends of increased mobility while still being able to preserve the world for future generations. This entangles the very notions of mobility, development and sustainability, creating a confusion of concepts as the contrast between growth and limits wanes. Rather than setting biophysical limits, sustainability becomes a justification for continued growth green growth, sustainable mobility.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)555-565
JournalTijdschrift Voor Economische en Sociale Geografie
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 2012

Subject classification (UKÄ)

  • Human Geography


  • sustainable mobility
  • myth
  • growth
  • naturalisation
  • beliefs
  • contradictions


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