Essay by EssaySwap ContributorUniversity, Bachelor's February 2008

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Presented to Professor Stan McMullin Canadian Studies 12.495/496 Directed Studies Final Paper School of Canadian Studies Carleton University December 18, 1996 (Jump to: Footnotes or Bibliography) "...the car has become an article of dress without which we feel uncertain, unclad, and incomplete in the urban compound." Marshall McLuhan 1 In this day and age of endless choice in consumer products and services, consumers are led by advertising and corporate agendas to believe that purchasing an automobile is a choice. Choice, after all, has been and remains one of the most popular features of democracy. We consider it our right as consumers of the twentieth century, to choose between the many different automobile models. Increasingly, however, many people are beginning to realize that the use of the automobile is one of dependence and not of choice. Considering that the average North American works twenty-seven hours each month paying for the thirty-two hours per month he or she spends driving2, the notion of choice is put into serious question.

According to the New World Dictionary of the American Language, choice "implies the chance, right, or power to choose, usually by the free exercise of one's own judgement."3 Can we fully ascribe this meaning of choice to Canadian society's seemingly dependent relationship with the automobile? Is one truly free while paralysed in rush-hour traffic, or commuting long distances to and from work daily? This notion of choice and freedom must be challenged. Strong and ample evidence shows that, quite contrary to the popular belief which equates the car with choice, automobile use is often the result of rigid urban planning favouring long-distance commuting and fostering dependence both at the societal and the individual level.

It is the purpose of this paper to challenge the ever-so-powerful notion of choice often used to justify automobile...