A Theories of Practice Perspective in Understanding Barriers to Sustainable Commuting: The Case of UAE

Shilpa Iyanna, Carmela Bosangit, Marylyn Carrigan, Jordon Lazell

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A critical step to mitigate climate change is to reduce automobile pollution emissions. The transportation sector produces 23% of world energy-related CO2 emissions with three-quarters of the emissions coming from road transport, specifically passenger cars and light-duty trucks. The daily commute constitutes a significant portion of the traffic demand in cities, as people’s use of private cars remains an integral part of daily life. Using theories of practice, this paper investigates the range of elements (meanings, competencies and materials) that collectively shapes the practice of daily commuting. Adopting a qualitative approach, the research comprises 21 interviews with UAE residents. Our findings reveal two major insights: (1) “meanings” play a more dominant role in shaping the practice of daily commuting, thus, competencies and materials are integrated in a way that addresses these meanings; and (2) practices are simultaneously interconnected with other practices and often compete for the finite resources of consumers. The paper provides insights to the barriers to sustainable commuting practices and outlines significant opportunities for intervention.
Original languageEnglish
Article numbere1668
Pages (from-to)(In-press)
JournalInternational Journal of Nonprofit and Voluntary Sector Marketing
Issue number4
Early online date20 Nov 2019
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 20 Nov 2019



  • Theories of practice
  • Daily commute
  • sustainable transport
  • United Arab Emirates
  • 3-Element Social Practice Theory

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Economics and Econometrics
  • Marketing
  • Strategy and Management

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