From the Auto-mobile to the Driven Subject?

Discursive Assertions of Mobility Futures

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Katharina Manderscheid University of Hamburg

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The car has been identified as an element of modern identities, interwoven also with gender relations. The masculinity of the automobile subject draws on the steering and controlling of the car as a technological object. Thus, driverless cars potentially call into question the gendering of the automobile subject. With the aim to assess this potential degendering, in this article I analyze two very different visions of driverless automobility. The focus is placed on the imagined users, the sociospatial context, and its gendered dimensions. I then reflect on the status of the videos, elaborating on their impact on the future of (auto)mobility and their meaning for mobility research. Gendering of cars, then, is seen as an element of a deeper socioeconomic order and its inherent power relations. Thus, future genderings cannot be simply read off technological visions but will instead develop in unforeseeable social contestations.

Contributor Notes

Katharina Manderscheid holds a PhD in sociology and completed her habilitation on mobilities and social inequality. She is Professor of Sociology in the Department of Socioeconomics at the University of Hamburg. Her research interests include methods and methodologies of spatial and mobilities research, subjectivities, discourse and dispositive analysis, issues of ecological and social sustainability, and futures of automobility. E-mail:

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