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Automobility and Oil Vulnerability

Unfairness as Critical to Energy Transitions

Ana Horta

societies, and some, such as automobility, correspond to complex sociotechnical systems and practices with countless implications. It is unclear how these can be changed, and the uncertainties involved in such processes of transitioning require attention to

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Media Ecologies of Autonomous Automobility

Gendered and Racial Dimensions of Future Concept Cars

Julia M. Hildebrand and Mimi Sheller

,” potentially distributing and organizing mobilities in new ways, or as dystopias of malfunctioning technology. 4 The suggested “new automobile paradigm” significantly affects not only the act of driving but also our “aesthetic, emotional and sensory responses

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Automobiles and Socioeconomic Sustainability

Do We Need a Mobility Bill of Rights?

Daniel Newman

Cars define the modern age, and there are few more powerful signifiers of contemporary consumer capitalism than private automobility. The presumption for vehicle ownership is writ through twenty-first century life to the extent that there are

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From the Auto-mobile to the Driven Subject?

Discursive Assertions of Mobility Futures

Katharina Manderscheid

Automobility has been identified as a fundamental element of modern Western socialities and corresponding identities, deeply interwoven with power relations and social inequalities. 1 By this token, social science literature has repeatedly

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Bill Luckin

This international overview focuses on the conflict between drivers and non- drivers in Britain, France, the United States, Germany, and Sweden during the interwar period. It suggests that on neither side of the Channel did pro-pedestrian movements make a major impact on national safety legislation. In the U.S.A. automobile-manufacturing interest groups undermined what they perceived to be threatening neighborhood opposition to the onward rush of the automobile. In Germany, which had earlier experienced high levels of anti-car activity, Hitler-inspired commitment to modernization nevertheless led, by the mid-1930s, to the consolidation of punitive measures against erring drivers. In Sweden, however, there appears to have been a high degree of complementarity between pro-motorism and policies designed to minimize dangerous driving. The paper concludes that an understanding of this “deviant“ position may be deepened through scrutiny of the values associated with the Swedish Social Democratic Workers' Party (SAP). A similar approach might be applied to the other nations discussed in the article.

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“The Song They Sing Is the Song of the Road”

Motoring and the Semantics of Space in Early Twentieth-Century British Travel Writing

Martin Walter

When, in the early twentieth century, British middle-class writers went on a tour in search of their country, travel writing not only saw the re-emergence of the home tour, but also the increasing appearance of the motorcar on British roads. With the travelogue playing the role of a discursive arena in which debates about automobility were visualized, the article argues that, as they went “in search of England,” writers like Henry Vollam Morton and J. B. Priestley not only took part in the ideological framing of motoring as a social practice, but also contributed to a change in the perception of accessing a seemingly remote English countryside. By looking at a number of contemporary British travelogues, the analysis traces the strategies of how the driving subjects staged their surroundings, and follows the authors' changing attitudes toward the cultural habit of traveling: instead of highlighting the seemingly static nature of the meaning of space, the travelogues render motoring a dynamic and procedural spatial practice, thus influencing notions of nature, progress, and tradition.

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Transfers between Media and Mobility

Automobilism, Early Cinema, and Literature, 1900-1920

Dorit Müller

The essay analyzes the interrelationship between media technologies and the development of mobility based on a concrete historical constellation—the emergence of automobilism and its representation in literature and film between 1900 and 1920. The focus lies on Western European countries and most notably on Italian and German literature as well as British, German, and French films. During that period, the portrayal of the automobile in these countries shows a dominant pattern: due to their speed, cars seem to embody a destructive power per se. This is expressed by numerous violence-related scenarios. However, the accentuation of destructive tendencies cannot only be described as a response to increased risks. Rather, they are a product of media technologies and media-specific aesthetics, too: film, establishing itself as a new media form experimenting with “dynamization“ and destruction; and literature, responding to the new visual media using dynamic language and the demolition of traditional poetic forms. Consequently, the noticeable surge in technology around 1900 created new and different types of mobility in the areas of transportation and media, influencing each other.

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Road against Rail

The Debate on Transport Policy in Belgium, 1920-1940

Donald Weber

When new motorized means of transport, such as buses, vans, and lorries, captured part of the transport market in Belgium in the interwar period, the rail companies engaged in a political fight to restrict the new modes of road transport. Attempts were made to introduce fiscal and administrative measures aimed at limiting road transport. This coincided with an intense debate on transport policy, both in the press and in parliament. The article focuses on the discourse driving this debate. It is argued that the positions taken were motivated by economic issues, but that there were underlying cultural motivations, different perceptions of what transport should represent in the lives of the users and the whole of society. The focus on the so-called coordination debate is widened beyond the conflict between trains and vans in the 1930s, to include the conflict between automobiles, buses, and trams in the 1920s.

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The Morality of Motoring

The Emergence of the Automobile in Belgium, 1895-1940

Donald Weber

The emergence of the automobile in Belgium from 1895 onwards brutally disrupted the traditional social order on the roads, transforming social practices and the order of society from the mundane-the everyday use of transport-to the more rarified-urban planning and the use of public space. In this article, we will deal with the earliest history of motorization in Belgium. We will analyze motorization as a process of interaction between a specific set of social actors, and focus on its outcome: modern traffic policy as a conflict-management strategy. It is argued that traffic policy evolved from an originally moral strategy into a technical strategy, as engineers and the public road administration introduced Foucauldian approaches in order to discipline the traffic system.

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Cycles of Cathay

A History of the Bicycle in China

Edward J.M. Rhoads

Introduced into China in the late nineteenth century, the bicycle had to compete with a variety of alternative modes of personal transportation that for a number of years limited its appeal and utility. Thus, during the 1920s and 1930s it took a back seat to the hand-pulled rickshaw and during the 1940s to the pedicab (cycle rickshaw). It was only in the 1950s that the bicycle became the primary means of transportation for most urban Chinese. For the next four decades, as its use spread from the city to the countryside, China was the iconic “bicycle kingdom.“ Since the 1990s, however, the pedal-powered bicycle has been overtaken by the automobile (and motorcycle). Nevertheless, with the recent appearance and growing popularity of the e-bike, the bicycle may yet play an important role in China's transport modal mix. This overview history of the bicycle in China is based on a wide range of textual sources in English and Chinese as well as pictorial images.