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Ehren Helmut Pflugfelder

Several recent surveys report a gap between how men and women feel about autonomous vehicles. While such binaries may have limited usefulness, female respondents rank autonomous technology as less trustworthy and are less likely than men to report feeling safe in an autonomous car. This comment frames such results within the articles for this special section on autonomous vehicles, showing how reported gender divisions are resultant from discursive formations that frame user experience and individual performed experiences. These discursive-material dynamics generate persuasive configurations of power that thoughtful research and action in autonomous vehicle development could help mitigate. After summarizing survey diff erences, this comment off ers a brief commentary on how they might be addressed, focusing on material rhetoric and vehicle design.

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Masculinity and Autonomous Vehicles

A Degendered or Resegregated Future System of Automobility?

Dag Balkmar and Ulf Mellström

This article addresses the anthropomorphization and interpellative experience of cars and trucks, in order to meet future mobility challenges. Autonomous vehicles offer an emancipatory opportunity within a wider movement of degendering and regendering motor vehicles. We argue that autonomous vehicles can challenge the foundations of a gendered economy founded on masculinity, speed, pleasure, and embodiment. Rather than thinking in terms of a process of demasculinization, this article anticipates a regendering and resegregation through which certain forms of masculine gendered economies of pleasure will lose ground and others will gain. A core question in this article asks who will be in the driver’s seat of future systems of automobility as the control of the vehicle is gradually being transferred from the driver to digital control systems and intelligent roads.

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Media Ecologies of Autonomous Automobility

Gendered and Racial Dimensions of Future Concept Cars

Julia M. Hildebrand and Mimi Sheller

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.

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From Autonomous to Socially Conceived Technology

Toward a Causal, Intentional and Systematic Analysis of Interests and Elites in Public Technology Policy

Gunnar K.A. Njálsson

When administrative scientists look to the current scholarship surrounding the phenomenon of technological development, they will inevitably be forced to grapple not only with an entire battery of abstract theories portraying technological development as more or less socially determined or autonomous. These policy analysts will also be obliged to struggle with the daunting task of developing a coherent, causal, subject-oriented and systematic framework for describing, comparing and even creating public technology policies. Understanding the spectrum of theories available when examining public information technology policy development (hereafter IT-policy) from an administrative sciences perspective, including how these theories relate to each other and differ in nature, is paramount to any attempt to formulate such a systematic framework regarding the subject. Indeed, it is crucial in order to defend one’s choice of methodology.

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Ina Schröder

This article shows how native people in remote Siberian settlements address social distress in their communities by transmitting local knowledge through organizing leisure activities for children and youth. The author examines the rationale, discourses, and practices of indigenous activists to establish vacation camps and unpacks young people's narratives of how they relate to this particular leisure activity. The camps are creative sites of cultural production and social hubs for participants. While young people are open to influences of popular cultures available in urban centers and villages, they contrast the social solidarity of the vacation forest camps with the individualization and social distress in villages and towns.

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Olga Kharus and Vyacheslav Shevtsov

The article investigates the projects for creating a self-governing system in Siberia between the revolution of 1905–1907 and the Russian Civil War of 1918–1920. Analysis of original newspaper articles and archival material shows that these projects shared an aspiration for the establishment of a democratic system of self-government. The Siberian intelligentsia (the oblastniks) believed that Siberian autonomy would promote the economic and cultural development of the region, while serving All-Russian interests. It was only during the deep social upheavals and crisis of power in 1917 when separatist tendencies became dominant among the Siberian political elite. Anti-Bolshevik forces in Russia considered the Siberian outskirts to be a “territory of salvation” for the future democratic non-Soviet Russian state.

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Liudmila Alferova

The legal position of indigenous minorities in the Russian Federation is defined, first and foremost, by constitutional principles, which guarantee equal rights and freedoms to individuals and citizens. In reality, however, equality between indigenous minorities and other ethnic groups of the Russian Federation, in terms of the possibility of exercising their rights, depends largely on the conditions in which they live and conduct their livelihood activities. The rights of indigenous minorities are primarily concerned with preserving their ethnic identity, languages, culture, way of life, and livelihood activities. Additional safeguards are required to resolve contemporary issues related to the above.

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Sarah E. Summers

This article explores the connections between West German autonomous women's movement and the green movement from inception of the green movement in the 1970s until its institutionalization with the Green Party in the 1980s. I argue that understanding the role of feminism in the movement and vice versa requires scholars to rethink the autonomous strategies of the New Women's Movement. In doing so, I contend that autonomous feminists understood the wider implications of the green movement beyond ecological preservation, thus aiding in the transition to political party. Entangling the two movements also highlights the limits of gender equality in the Green Party as it implemented the quota system in the 1980s, and offers lessons for the potential future success of gender parity in German politics.

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Processes of Territorialization in Mexico

Indigenous Government, Violence, and Comunalidad

Philipp Wolfesberger

Current violence and insecurity have transformed many aspects of social life in Mexico. In this article, I will analyze how the different configurations of indigenous autonomous government in Cherán and Tlahuitoltepec are viable forms of social organization for providing local security through their relationship with communal territory. In the initial theoretic discussion, I define territorialization as a dynamic process that includes multiple actors, involves a collaborative claim over land and is grounded in violence. In the empiric part, I focus on the processes of territorialization that encompass the relation of indigenous autonomous government, violence, and comunalidad. The (violent) conflicts over hegemonic projects are compound in this study by the autonomous indigenous government and their linkages with the state apparatus of representative democracy.

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Introduction

Autonomous Driving and the Transformation of Car Cultures

Jutta Weber and Fabian Kröger

This special section on “Degendering the Driver” explores how gender intervenes in the potential shift from a driver-centered to a driverless car culture. It focuses on representations of imagined futures—prototypes, media images, and popular discourses of driverless cars. Following the tradition of feminist cultural studies of technoscience, we ask in our introduction how these new techno-imaginaries of autonomous driving are gendered and racialized. We aim to explore if the future user of an autonomous car is gendered or degendered in the current media discourse. The four articles explore what kinds of images are used, what promises are made, and how the discourse about autonomous driving is influenced by gendered norms. Some authors emphasize that self-driving vehicles could encourage pluralized forms of masculinity. Nonetheless, all authors conclude that driverless cars alone will not degender the driver but rather encourage a multiplication of gendered and racialized technologies of mobility.