Highways to Silence Revisited: A History of Discourse Coalitions around Traffic Noise

Arbor 199 (810):a725 (2023)
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During the Covid-19 pandemic, the density of road traffic in the Global North decreased considerably. For those enjoying the resulting tranquillity, it prompted the hope that this experience would raise public noise awareness and alter mobility culture. Now that Global North economies are returning to pre-pandemic levels, however, not much appears to have changed. This article aims to contribute to understanding the persistence of the status quo by historically tracing discourse coalitions around traffic noise in the twentieth and early twenty-first century. Discourse coalitions are connections between groups of actors that have opposing interests but share a specific set of storylines concerning a public problem. As we will show by focusing on the issue of traffic noise in the Netherlands, the long-term results of these discourse coalitions -in terms of discourse structuration, institutionalization and destabilization- tend to shift attention away from structural interventions in traffic flows.



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