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Who cares about AVs? Insights from French media discourse on Twitter and in the press

Abstract : Experiments with autonomous vehicles continue to proliferate. And yet, their broader public profile remains low. Commissioned by the French Ministry for Transport, this research examines the image of autonomous vehicles with the public at large. The methodology employed includes a thorough review of the French media discourse, in order to analyse the ways in which autonomous vehicles are presented and perceived in the press and social media. Over 2,600 press articles and 43,000 tweets in French were gathered and analysed in a period stretching from December 2017 to May 2018, supplementing a historical corpus of 2,200 articles appearing in the national press in the period 2012–2017. Analysis of this material yielded quantitative and qualitative information on autonomous vehicles. We attain a statistical description of the dissemination of information relating to autonomous vehicles and a dynamic analysis of the content shining a light on the process by which opinions are formed. The results reveal steadily growing but fluctuating media interest. Peaks correspond to widespread press coverage and substantial interest on Twitter, but never attained the critical mass required to constitute a media-hype. We also observed a significant homogenisation of content at these times. The same sources of information were widely shared. Economic stakeholders are at the centre of discussions, and they are also the principal sources of information. This predominance of the views espoused by private stakeholders shapes the prevalent framing of all of the subjects considered here. It leads us to conclude that autonomous vehicles are yet to achieve the level of general public interest that we associate with real issues of public interest. This point is of particular importance to the government agencies concerned with the deployment of autonomous vehicles and the social acceptability of such technologies.
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Contributor : Gaele Lesteven Connect in order to contact the contributor
Submitted on : Wednesday, June 15, 2022 - 5:00:56 PM
Last modification on : Monday, August 1, 2022 - 10:03:48 AM



Gaele Lesteven, Mariane Thébert. Who cares about AVs? Insights from French media discourse on Twitter and in the press. Case Studies on Transport Policy, Elsevier, 2022, 10 (2), pp.1078-1089. ⟨10.1016/j.cstp.2022.03.022⟩. ⟨halshs-03696197⟩



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