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Fashion and Technological Change: Tramways in Germany since the Second World War

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Publication details

JournalJournal of Transport History
DatePublished - Jun 2010
Issue number1
Number of pages25
Pages (from-to)1-24
Original languageEnglish


After the Second World War tramways in Germany remained the major means of transport until the early 1960s, when their decline began. As part of a common trend in Western Europe, most of the German cites began to abandon their tramway systems in order to replace them with busses. Not until the 1980s did this process slow down and the tramway began to reappear again; transport experts spoke of the ‘renaissance of the tramway’. In the 1990s tramways had again become a modern means of public transport. This article argues that notions of fashion were responsible for this technological change in urban transport and analyses the conditions necessary for a technology to become or cease to be ‘fashionable’. In this context fashion is understood as a specific cultural context which has led to a preference of a certain technology at certain times. Tramways in this sense have been a manifestation of commodity culture and of desires, ideas and beliefs.

    Research areas

  • URBAN, TRANSPORT, tramways, Technological change

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