Strand 5 - Development of New Transport Modelling Paradigms
Strand 5: Paul Timms
Strand 5 will look at the development of new transport modelling paradigms that are more consistent with a policy context driven by an acceptance of the need for step changes in transport behaviour and impact. Ultimately, Strand 5 will have the following objectives:
1. To make a historical review of transport modelling paradigms.
2. To relate transport modelling paradigms to alternative theories of planning (as identified in Strand 4).
3. To examine theories (both traditional and current) in biology, literary theory, art and other disciplines to investigate the possibility of transfer of metaphors to transport modelling
4. To examine the use of mathematical concepts in current social science theory and to answer the question 'what is a mathematical model in transport?'
5. To construct new paradigms/metaphors in transport modelling using the evidence gained in Strands 1 and 2 (and integrated in Strand 3) and, where appropriate, 'pass these metaphors back' to Strand 3.
6. To run three workshops involving the academic community and local authority / consultant model-users.
Description of work
The development and use of transport models is clearly well-established within the ‘EPSRC transport community’. However, a number of writers have observed that the ‘traditional’ representations of individual and collective behaviour in such models, which have changed little over 30 years (except in their details), are frequently inconsistent with the policy context in which the models are to be used (Timms, 2008). Strand 5 will deploy the outputs from Strands 1 to 4 to construct possible new modelling paradigms. In so doing, Strand 5 will pay particular attention to developments in academic disciplines traditionally distinct from transport modelling, such as biology, literary theory and art, in order to consider the possibility of transference of metaphors from these disciplines to transport modelling. Strand 5 will also pay attention to recent usage of mathematical concepts (concerning topology, graph theory and set theory) in social science applications.
Task 5.1 – Historical review will be made of transport modelling paradigms
Using introductory work in this area carried out by Timms (2006), we will review transport modelling paradigms in common use since the 1950s. This review will pay particular attention to ‘dominant’ metaphors employed in two specific eras in transport modelling: (1) the ‘social physics era’ (the period from the 1950s to the 1970s in which dominant metaphors came from Newtonian physics); and (2) the ‘neo-classical economics era’ (1970s to the present-day). The review will seek to explain why specific metaphors were popular in each period, relating this analysis to contextual developments occurring in wider society. The review will also cover metaphors used in recent mobilitiesresearch (Sheller and Urry, 2006) and associated work on ‘philosophical nomadism’(Deleuze and Guattari, 1987; Braidotti, 2006).
Task 5.2 – Ideal-types of model for alternative planning paradigms
Task 5.2 will pay particular attention to the fact that the main use of transport models is in planning exercises. We will examine the alterative planning paradigms reviewed in Strand 4 and suggest ideal-types of models to be used in accordance with such planning theories.
Task 5.3 – Analogies from biology, literary theory and art
We will firstly compile a list of disciplines to be examined with a view to finding analogies potentially useful for transport modelling. These disciplines, at a minimum, will include biology, literary theory and art, whilst further disciplines could include post-Newtonian physics, geology, architecture and music. The examination of biology will focus particularly upon differing theories of evolution and concepts such as autopoiesis, and upon the contributions of biology to (interdisciplinary) complexity theory and systems theory. A critical review will be made on the use of such developments in social science theorisation, referring to a wide range of authors including Chettiparamb (2006), Cilliers (2005), and Elder-Vass (2007). Literary theory will be considered along two lines of enquiry. Firstly, theories of narrative and semiotics will be explored (using standard reference works such as Eco, 1984), examining how current transport models employ narrative and semiotic approaches (albeit implicitly). Secondly, given the emphasis of Strand 4 upon long term future visioning, a review will be made of academic theories concerning science fiction literature (such as those by Hollinger, 2003, and Jameson, 2005) and its relationship to fantasy literature (Suvin, 2000). Thinking about art will be pursued in two principle directions. Firstly, debates about style in art history (focusing on examples such as impressionism, classicism, cubism, symbolism and surrealism) will be examined for their relevance to the process of constructing transport metaphors. Secondly, previous research (for example by Henderson, 2004) concerning the interaction of art and science (in specific historical contexts) will be reviewed, again identifying potential relevance to the creation of transport metaphors. A decision about searching for analogies in further disciplines will be made after consideration of the three primary disciplines (biology, literary theory and art).
Task 5.4 – Philosophy underlying mathematical approaches used in the social sciences
We will explore the philosophy underlying different mathematical approaches used within the social sciences, including the use of linear regression models, taking into account their critique from those (such as Abbott, 2001) who emphasise the value of descriptive mathematical methods such as clustering, social network analysis, and geometric data analysis. The task will also consider the use of topological models, as developed within complexity theory. This exploration will provide the basis for considering issues such as realism/anti-realism and representationalism in the social sciences, and how different philosophies of mathematics (such as Platonism, constructivism, formalism and naturalism) are relevant to model construction. The task will provide a basis for defining ‘what is a mathematical model in transport?’, thus making an input to the construction of new modelling paradigms in Task 5.5.
Task 5.5 – Creation of new transport modelling paradigms
Task 5.5 will examine the new evidence generated by Strands 1 and 2 (and integrated in Strand 3). Using this evidence, a subset of the metaphors generated by Task 5.3 will be chosen with a view to incorporating them as analogies for (potential) transport models to be developed in the future (outside of the STEP-CHANGE project). This process will lead directly to the construction of new transport modelling paradigms. When constructing these paradigms, their eventual practical usage in future planning processes (as identified in Task 5.2) will be taken into account. Particular metaphors for transport generated in this process will be fed back into Strand 3 where they will be used to support the process of integration of evidence.
Task 5.6 – Workshops
We will organise three workshops, all with approximately 20 (non-project) participants. Two of these workshops will bring together academic transport modellers and academic social scientists to debate the findings of Tasks 5.1 to 5.5. The third workshop will involve practical model-users from local authorities and transport consultancies in order to get their suggestions on the construction of new modelling paradigms.
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