Article information


Nikolay Rudenko (

Sociological Institute of the Russian Academy of Sciences –– Branch of the Federal Center of Theoretical and Applied Sociology of the Russian Academy of Sciences, Saint Petersburg, Russia, Saint Petersburg, Russia; European University at Saint Petersburg, Russia

Citation: Rudenko N. (2019) Sotsial'nyye issledovaniya bespilotnykh avtomobiley: teoreticheskiy obzor [Social Studies of Automated Vehicles: A Theoretical Review]. Zhurnal sotsiologii i sotsialnoy antropologii [The Journal of Sociology and Social Anthropology], 22(6): 123–149. (in Russian). 

Abstract. This article is an overview of the main approaches in the social sciences to the study of automated vehicles. The author believes that automated vehicles already cause social problems today (for example, fatal accidents or job loss by certain professional groups), therefore there is a need for their study on the part of the social sciences. Along with technical sciences, which solve the issues of the effective functioning of technical equipment, proper training of the neural network, and building connections with other cars and the environment, social sciences solve their own problems related to cultural driving practices, trust, social preferences, urban development and the regulatory framework of the state technology regulation. This article offers an interdisciplinary review of the most prominent social studies of automated vehicles in the scientific literature: cultural anthropology, social psychology, survey sociology, urban planning and government regulation. Cultural anthropologists study the situational behavior of road users, and their main problem is to answer the question of how to adapt an unmanned vehicle to the cultural diversity of driving practices? Social psychology proceeds from the assumption of the existence of psychologically-mediated ways of interaction between a person and a machine, and the main problem is how to induce a person's trust in an automated vehicle? Survey sociology focuses on which sociodemographic groups are interested in automated vehicles appearing on the streets and how this differs in the intercountry perspective. City planners are concerned about the impact of automated driving technology on the transformation of the urban environment, especially how mass production of unmanned vehicles will fit in with a sustainable paradigm in urban development. Finally, the state regulation approach works on a regional and national scale and poses the problem of including as many topics related to social problems that automated vehicles may cause in city setting.

Key words: self-driving cars, social studies, cultural anthropology, social psychology, policy research, urban planning, sociological surveys. 


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