Disciplining pedestrians: a critical analysis of traffic safety discourses

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This thesis examines how a non-profit organization, concerned with reducing injuries, promotes pedestrian safety in Canada. It is a case study which, from a critical perspective, uses several qualitative methods to locate the Canada Safety Council in its social context and to examine its conceptualizations of pedestrian safety within the ‘system’ of automobility. Through a review of relevant documents of the Canada Safety Council, this study examines safety promotion practices and discourses as they relate to the management of pedestrian risks. I discuss the political-economic implications of traffic safety promotion discourses within a neoliberal context that prefers individualized solutions to traffic risks. I argue that discourses of safety promotion discipline pedestrians and ultimately reinforce particular forms of mobility that support industries dependent on automobility. The promotion of pedestrian safety ensures pedestrians do not impede automobility and obscures a reconsideration of the adequacy of the ‘system’ of automobility for all people.

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Department of Sociology and Anthropology - Simon Fraser University
Thesis type: 
Thesis (M.A.)