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Commuting and the role of flexible working practices

Burkinshaw, Julian Richard (2018) Commuting and the role of flexible working practices. PhD thesis, University of Leeds.

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Considerable reductions in energy demand across society are necessary in order for the UK to achieve its decarbonisation targets by 2050. Significant attention has been given to challenging the carbon intensity of transport to help achieve these targets, with commuting of particular interest. Flexible working practices are promoted as desirable policies to intervene in these journeys; however cutting emissions and reducing demand has proved difficult. Limitations of these predominant individualistic perspectives illustrate why alternative mechanisms and perspectives are required to approach the sustainability challenge. Social practice theory can help in this endeavour, by decentralising the individual and instead placing the practices which constitute individual lives at the centre of analysis. Exploring and understanding transport as a system of practice draws attention to the ways in which practices bundle together in the organisation of everyday lives. It is through this understanding that alternative avenues for intervention arise; for example into the practice of flexible working, which engender the need for particular modes of mobility. To understand the influence of flexible working, analysis of 29 in-depth semi-structured interviews was conducted, which considered an understanding of work and its connections to other adjacent practices, particularly related to the household and the commute necessary. The results show that although technology has allowed work practices to change in many ways and to allow for greater spatial and temporal flexibility, it has not, in the sample investigated, led to a major shift in commute behaviours to lower carbon modes. The results also show that it is not the apparent flexibility of different types of work (‘creative’ vs ‘non-creative’) that is important, rather that the workplace, for many professions and for many people, seems to hold very strong social, material and professional attractions which influence what flexibilities exist and how they might be deployed or integrated.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Keywords: Commuting, flexible working practices, social practice theory, flexibility
Academic Units: The University of Leeds > Faculty of Environment (Leeds) > Institute for Transport Studies (Leeds)
Identification Number/EthosID: uk.bl.ethos.766411
Depositing User: Mr Julian R Burkinshaw
Date Deposited: 17 Jan 2019 11:17
Last Modified: 18 Feb 2020 12:49
URI: http://etheses.whiterose.ac.uk/id/eprint/22527

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