Practice(s) and Ratchet(s): A Sociological Examination of Frequent Flying
The overall project takes an interdisciplinary, multi-method approach. Our key conclusion and thesis from the overall project is that the growth of aviation
can be understood as an outcome of two coupled and co-evolving processes. These are: (a) the expansionary tendencies of air service provision in the UK (and perhaps internationally, though we haven’t yet undertaken international comparative case studies), in part fuelled by coalitions of regional economic agents, including airports, airlines and publicly funded regional development agencies (reported in chapter 12 of this volume); and (b) the growth of flying in general, and frequent flying in particular, which we argue can be partially explained by the transformation and normalization of the conventions of occasion, which now routinely incorporate flying whereas previously they did not, or did not to the same degree. Together, we argue, these coupled tendencies are producing ‘upward ratchets’ on flying which lead us to quite pessimistic conclusions regarding the scope for emissions reduction, even taking account of technology and efficiency improvements discursively promoted by the industry as the primary solution to the aviation emissions problem.