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Sara Ullström

Sara Ullström

PhD Student

Sara Ullström

From aspirational luxury to hypermobility to staying on the ground: changing discourses of holiday air travel in Sweden


  • Sara Ullström
  • Johannes Stripple
  • Kimberly Nicholas

Summary, in English

Research has demonstrated an unwillingness among travelers to reduce their holiday flying. Recently, however, a movement with people avoiding and problematizing flying has emerged in Sweden and spread internationally. This paper explores how the rising problematization of flying changes the meanings of holiday air travel in a carbon-constrained world. Using travel magazines and digital media sources, we trace changing discourses (overarching ideas and traditions shaping social practices) of holiday air travel in Sweden from 1950–2019. The paper identifies the emergence of a new discourse (Staying on the ground) and shows how it works through moralization (flying is ethically wrong) and persuasion (emphasizing alternatives) to challenge dominant meanings of holiday air travel as desirable and necessary. While Staying on the ground is far from a dominant discourse, there are signs that it has begun to destabilize contemporary cultures of aeromobility. The Staying on the ground discourse exemplifies how meanings attached to ingrained high-carbon practices, and the policies that sustain them, are currently being contested and rearticulated. Acknowledging that low-carbon transformations are fundamentally forms of social and cultural change, the paper illustrates why practices of carbon lock-in are so entrenched, but also how they might be resisted and open up for change.


  • LUCSUS (Lund University Centre for Sustainability Studies)
  • BECC: Biodiversity and Ecosystem services in a Changing Climate
  • Department of Political Science

Publishing year





Journal of Sustainable Tourism

Document type

Journal article




  • Earth and Related Environmental Sciences


  • Climate change; cultural change; social change; sustainable tourism; social norms; aviation




  • ISSN: 0966-9582