Who by Accident? The Social Morphology of Car Accidents

Authors

  • Roni Factor,

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    • Department of Global Health and Population, Harvard School of Public Health.

    • Faculty of Civil and Environmental Engineering, Transportation Research Institute, Techninon-Israel Institute of Technology.

  • Gad Yair,

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    • Department of Sociology and Anthropology, the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.

  • David Mahalel

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    • Faculty of Civil and Environmental Engineering, Transportation Research Institute, Techninon-Israel Institute of Technology.


Address correspondence to Roni Factor, Department of Global Health and Population, Harvard School of Public Health, 665 Huntington Ave., Boston, MA 02115, USA; tel: +1-617-8173325; fax: +1-617-4321251; rfactor@hsph.harvard.edu.

Abstract

Prior studies in the sociology of accidents have shown that different social groups have different rates of accident involvement. This study extends those studies by implementing Bourdieu's relational perspective of social space to systematically explore the homology between drivers’ social characteristics and their involvement in specific types of motor vehicle accident. Using a large database that merges official Israeli road-accident records with socioeconomic data from two censuses, this research maps the social order of road accidents through multiple correspondence analysis. Extending prior studies, the results show that different social groups indeed tend to be involved in motor vehicle accidents of different types and severity. For example, we find that drivers from low socioeconomic backgrounds are overinvolved in severe accidents with fatal outcomes. The new findings reported here shed light on the social regularity of road accidents and expose new facets in the social organization of death.

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