This chapter introduces the key arguments and structure of the book. It argues that air travel in the United Kingdom, traditionally associated with modernist promises of economic growth and increasing mobility, has been transformed into a ‘wicked’ or ‘messy’ policy controversy increasingly connected to climate change and peak oil. The chapter then sets out the contribution of this study to three related concerns. It first explains how airport expansion has been reframed as an intractable policy issue, analysing the political and rhetorical strategies that have emerged to resolve it while investigating how environmental campaigners appear to have been able to stall and possibly reverse aviation expansion. It also explores the construction and potential resolution of ‘wicked problems’ and the theoretical tools with which to explore them. Finally, it demonstrates how poststructuralist discourse theory and its insights into hegemony, rhetoric, heresthetics and fantasy offer novel twists on explanations of policy change.
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