What do the inhabitants of rural areas think about mobility? A textual analysis of the database of the “Grand Débat” in France

By Aurore Flipo

Following the Yellow Vests mobilisation, the French government implemented at the beginning of 2019 an online debate platform (“Grand Débat”) that subsequently received 569,000 contributions from more than 250,000 individual participants. Despite its limitations that I discuss in detail, it can be a complementary tool to approach perceptions of public actions in various territories. In this article, I use the contributions posted on the platform to analyse through textual analysis the ways in which mobility is perceived and apprehended in two predominantly rural provinces. I first explore the general themes in which the subject of mobility has been addressed, before analysing the place of mobility within the topic of ecological transition, where most of the contributions on mobility could be found. Finally, I address the demands expressed by respondents around access to various modes of local transport, before discussing the potentials and limits of textual analysis for processing such data. Analysis shows a wide gap between public discourse focused on individual practices and responsibility on the one hand, and the importance in the database of views promoting more systemic action on ecological transition on the other hand. It also confirms the importance of cleavages that have been observed elsewhere on the issue of the electric car.

  • mobility
  • rurality
  • transport
  • textual analysis
  • yellow vests movement
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