Show Summary Details
Restricted access

Media Ecologies of Autonomous Automobility

Gendered and Racial Dimensions of Future Concept Cars

Julia M. Hildebrand and Mimi Sheller

Keywords: automobility; concept car; future; gender; media ecology; race; visual analysis

The imagination of automated automobility puts into question the control of the vehicle by a masculine driver and potentially disturbs feelings of safety, power, security, and freedom. Given that systems of automobility and communication technology are already gendered and racialized in particular ways, this article explores how recent “premediated” depictions of automated car technologies reconfigure and reproduce the historically gendered and raced representations, meanings, and practices of (auto)mobility. This inquiry employs a media ecological approach within the qualitative analysis of two concept car previews by Nissan and Volvo. Rather than a degendering of the driver, we suggest a multiplication of gendered and racialized technologies of mobility via several forms of hypermediation. We also explore how the autonomous car continues to evoke utopian spatial metaphors of the car as sanctuary and communicative environment while allaying fears of dystopian metaphors of the vehicle as traffic trap, virtual glass house, and algorithmic target.

Users without a subscription are not able to see the full content. Please, subscribe or log in to access all content.