Experts, theories, and electric mobility transitions: Toward an integrated conceptual framework for the adoption of electric vehicles

Journal Article

I expand and integrate a theory of mobility (Automobility) with one of science and technology (Actor Network Theory) and one about social acceptance and user adoption (UTAUT). I apply this integrative framework to the diffusion (and non-diffusion) of electric vehicles and the process of electric mobility. I begin by presenting my methods, namely semi-structured qualitative research interviews with social theorists. Then, I present the three theories deemed most relevant by respondents. Automobility holds that, on a cultural or social level, automobiles exist as part of a complex, one that involves hardware and infrastructure—a hybridity between drivers and machines—along with patterns of identity and attitudes about driving pleasure. Actor Network Theory (ANT) involves the concepts of network assemblage, translation, enrollment, and actants and lieutenants. The Unified Theory of Acceptance and Use of Technology, or UTAUT, states that on an individual level, the adoption of new technologies will be predicated on interconnected factors such as performance expectancy, effort expectancy, and other facilitating conditions. Based largely on the original interview data supplemented with peer-reviewed studies, I propose a conceptual framework of user acceptance consisting of motile pleasure, sociality, sociotechnical commensurability, and habitual momentum. I conclude with implications for research and policy.