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The moral work of timing mobilities: ‘limited insight’ and truncated worth in municipal traffic management

Susann Wagenknecht (2020)

Mobilities, 15(5), pp. 694-707.

Abstract. Timing urban traffic is moral work. In this paper, I show how the moral work that goes into timing traffic lights addresses both industrial, civic, and domestic worth in ways that cut generalization short. Relying upon ethnographic fieldwork, this paper focuses on how municipal traffic engineering maintains traffic lights and handles complaints about them. Steeped in moral ambiguity, the paper argues, municipal traffic engineering resorts to singularizing complaints, truncating worth, and working with careful dedication from one contestable compromise to the next. With this argument, the paper contributes to an understanding of the temporal and moral orderings at stake in adjusting and justifying urban mobilities.

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