Roads

Authored by: Peter Merriman

The Routledge Handbook of Mobilities

Print publication date:  December  2013
Online publication date:  January  2014

Print ISBN: 9780415667715
eBook ISBN: 9781315857572
Adobe ISBN: 9781317934134

10.4324/9781315857572.ch18

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Abstract

Mud, grit, stone, ice, wood, sand, concrete, tarmac. Roads can be and have been formed of many substances, and they have emerged and been created for many reasons. Roads matterin different ways. They may be fairly permanent and durable, or they may be seasonal and become impassable – being liable to flood, collapse or melt (Merriman 2011). What’s more, people inhabit roads in different ways in different cultural contexts, giving rise to very different cultural attitudes to the socio-material assemblage of ‘the road’ and to differences in customs and laws relating to such things as speed, conduct, roadside activity and the types of vehicle and user permitted (Miller 2001; Edensor 2004; Merriman 2009a; Dalakoglou and Harvey 2012). Roads, then, are not simply material artefacts or landscape features which are of interest to engineers, planners and politicians. Roads are key infrastructures facilitating cultural and economic flows of people, goods and information. Roads facilitate the networking of communities, but they have only received a limited amount of attention from social science and humanities scholars, playing second-fiddle to mobile vehicles and mobile subjects in many recent literatures on road-based mobilities.

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