Mobility - flows, movement and migration in social life - has emerged as a central area of sociological debate, yet one of its most dominant forms, automobility, has remained largely ignored. Edited by three leading social analysts, Automobilities presents one of the first and most wide-ranging examinations of the car and its promise of autonomy and mobility. Drawing on rich empirical detail, from ethnographies of office work on the motorway to the important of the car in French cultural theory, the contributions demonstrate just how significant have been the economic, technological, social and political consequences of a pervasive and accelerating culture of the car. A broad array of theories are put to work to illuminate this vast and yet neglected topic: strategy and tactics, complexity theory, performativity, actor network theory, film theory, material culture, theories of non-places, embodiment, sensuous geography/sociology, ethnomethodology and non-representational theory. This book will firmly establish automobilities as a key topic for theory and research. Automobilities represents a landmark text that will contribute to and provide a significant impetus for the emerging analysis of mobilities in contemporary societies.

The Driver-Car

The driver-car

THE MOTOR car has become ubiquitous in late modern societies, including the United Kingdom where 70 percent of the population hold driving licences and there are nearly 23 million licensed cars. Whereas in 1960 the majority of households (71 percent) did not have the regular use of a car, by 1999 the majority (72 percent) did (DETR, 2000). As long ago as 1963, Roland Barthes (1993: 1136) pointed out that the car had become a ‘need’ not a luxury and in 1968 Henri Lefebvre (1971: 100) called it the ‘Leading-Object’ in terms of its centrality within the culture of modern societies. The car shapes the built environment, cuts through the landscape, dominates the soundscape, is a key commodity in production and consumption. ...

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