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Flying Lessons: Exploring The Social And Cultural Geographies Of Global Air Travel

Peter Adey, Lucy Budd, Phil Hubbard

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Geographic perspectives on civil aviation have traditionally been situated within the conceptual landscapes and languages of a transport geography in which quantitative methodologies have been to the fore. While such perspectives have shed light on the increasingly complex morphology of global air routes, this article argues such approaches tend to downplay crucial questions concerning the social production and consumption of airspace. Drawing on ideas from the newly-emergent `mobilities' paradigm, we use this article to flag up some alternative geographies of air travel, arguing that socially- and culturally-inflected perspectives can usefully reveal the iniquitous imprints of global air travel at a variety of spatial scales. We hence conclude that there is much to be gained by adopting such perspectives, and argue that work on the social dimensions of air travel is vital in a discipline where air transport is routinely described as an enabler of globalization, yet is often treated as an abstract, and oddly disembodied, space of flows.