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Open Access Publications from the University of California

The Regulation of Urban Mobility Regimes: A Conjunctural Approach

  • Author(s): Nowak, Samuel Laurence
  • Advisor(s): Leitner, Helga M.
  • Sheppard, Eric S.
  • et al.

This thesis examines the securitization of a light rail transit line in Los Angeles, California called the Blue Line, conceptualizing securitization as the disproportionate use of law, police, and socio-technical systems of security to regulate individuals as they move throughout the transit network. To understand this process, I develop a theoretical framework that integrates two largely divergent literatures, mobilities theory and urban political economy. I argue that together these literatures provide a productive framework for examining different modalities of regulating human mobility in the capitalist city, what a term a mode of mobility regulation. Methodologically, I extend the current limitations of mobilities research through a Gramscian-inspired conjunctural approach to the study of mobility and immobility. A conjunctural approach provides an historical analytic that analyzes the mechanisms and relations by which urban mobility regimes attempt to secure dominance through complex articulations of ideology, economy, and race. Through this approach, I examine the socio-spatial forces that shaped the mode of mobility regulation within Los Angeles rail transit as one of securitization. Drawing on archival research into these ideological, economic, and racial relations of force, I show how everyday transit mobilities intersect with macro-scale relations and processes. Ultimately, I argue that different modalities of regulating human mobility in the capitalist city both draw on and reproduce various axes of social difference, and the ways in which mobilities are unevenly organized around such difference.

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