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Title:Mobility Without Mayhem: Disciplining Mobile America Through Safety
Author(s):Packer, Jeremy Scott
Doctoral Committee Chair(s):Hay, James
Department / Program:Speech Communication
Discipline:Speech Communication
Degree Granting Institution:University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Subject(s):History, United States
Abstract:This dissertation addresses the relationship between culture, discourse, and governing. It focuses on American notions of personal mobility and freedom and argues that they have been increasingly shaped and governed by safety concerns. This is not only evident in public discussions of auto-mobility, but also in discussions of other new communication and transportation technologies, including the Internet. Each chapter focuses on a different safety crisis from the past fifty years. My examination of mass media, safety expert and safety advocate discourses, provides an account of what non-safety related issues, such as gender, age, race, and class, often guide media representations and governmental responses to these crises. For instance, one problem "plaguing" the United States in the 1950s was an increase in "dangerous and incompetent" women drivers, primarily due to suburbanization. Countless popular press articles responded to and helped create this crisis, most notably in women's magazines. They assisted in altering women's relationships to mobility and technology, while also validating women's roles in the newly created suburbs. The field of communications is approached in two differing ways throughout the dissertation. First, transportation and mobility are treated as components within an expanded notion of communication. Second, the archive of my research consists primarily of traditional forms of communication: the popular press, magazines, mass market books, film, television, and, in the cases of recent safety crises, the Internet. Advocates and practitioners of targeted forms of mobility, such as hackers and motorcyclists, provide a subjugated archive that often resists the legislation and media representations. This counter-discourse is analyzed as part of a discussion of the politics of mobility.
Issue Date:2001
Description:271 p.
Thesis (Ph.D.)--University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, 2001.
Other Identifier(s):(MiAaPQ)AAI3023160
Date Available in IDEALS:2015-09-28
Date Deposited:2001

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