Finding “Improvement” in the Language Transportation Planners Use: A Critical Discourse Analysis to Illustrate an Automobile-Centric Bias in Transportation Policymaking

Courtney Jensen, Josephine K. Hazelton, Gerard Wellman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

This research considers the urban planning situations in which transportation planners implicitly or explicitly use the term “improvement.” To answer our research questions—what do planners and policymakers mean by improvement, and how do these improvements challenge or reinforce car-centered transportation planning—we conducted a discourse analysis on documents from 50 cities, counties, and state departments of transportation. Using a critical discourse analysis, we find that perceptions about what is a transportation infrastructure “improvement” reveals policymakers’ and planners’ situatedness, defines for themselves and the public they serve “correct” travel methods, and upholds the car-centric status quo in the United States.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)167-188
Number of pages22
JournalPublic Works Management and Policy
Volume25
Issue number2
DOIs
StatePublished - Apr 1 2020

Keywords

  • discourse analysis
  • transportation planning
  • urban mobility
  • urban planning

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