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The missing mobility: friction and freedom in the movement and digitization of cargo

Journal Article


Abstract


  • Logistics, freight, cargo and containerization are understood to be a final frontier for mobilities research; however, a burgeoning body of literature is now engaging with this oversight. Of interest are various components in this complex: the mobility of the container through different transport modes; the techno-science of logistics and the telecommunications architecture in place to track and trace objects through global production networks; and the securitization and geopolitical consequences of free markets and flows through bottlenecks, hotspots and conflict zones. In this article, a fourth component is analysed, namely the increasing digitization of physical objects and the consequences for mass-production, -distribution and -consumption. The article argues that the mobilities paradigm is in a position to apply itself critically to the cargomobility system drawing on rich veins of inquiry in the current corpus. Putting this claim into practice, the article deploys two key mobilities social theories – that is, the friction of distance and freedom and unfreedom – to empirical research on the digitization of cargo through 3D printing technologies.

Publication Date


  • 2016

Citation


  • Birtchnell, T. (2016). The missing mobility: friction and freedom in the movement and digitization of cargo. Applied Mobilities, 1 (1), 85-101.

Number Of Pages


  • 16

Start Page


  • 85

End Page


  • 101

Volume


  • 1

Issue


  • 1

Abstract


  • Logistics, freight, cargo and containerization are understood to be a final frontier for mobilities research; however, a burgeoning body of literature is now engaging with this oversight. Of interest are various components in this complex: the mobility of the container through different transport modes; the techno-science of logistics and the telecommunications architecture in place to track and trace objects through global production networks; and the securitization and geopolitical consequences of free markets and flows through bottlenecks, hotspots and conflict zones. In this article, a fourth component is analysed, namely the increasing digitization of physical objects and the consequences for mass-production, -distribution and -consumption. The article argues that the mobilities paradigm is in a position to apply itself critically to the cargomobility system drawing on rich veins of inquiry in the current corpus. Putting this claim into practice, the article deploys two key mobilities social theories – that is, the friction of distance and freedom and unfreedom – to empirical research on the digitization of cargo through 3D printing technologies.

Publication Date


  • 2016

Citation


  • Birtchnell, T. (2016). The missing mobility: friction and freedom in the movement and digitization of cargo. Applied Mobilities, 1 (1), 85-101.

Number Of Pages


  • 16

Start Page


  • 85

End Page


  • 101

Volume


  • 1

Issue


  • 1