Automotive Emotions: Feeling the Car.

Sheller, Mimi (2004) Automotive Emotions: Feeling the Car. Theory, Culture and Society, 21 (4-5). pp. 221-224. ISSN 1460-3616

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Car cultures have social, material and, above all, affective dimensions that are overlooked in current strategies to influence car-driving decisions. Car consumption is never simply about rational economic choices, but is as much about aesthetic, emotional and sensory responses to driving, as well as patterns of kinship, sociability, habitation and work. Through a close examination of the aesthetic and especially kinaesthetic dimensions of automobility, this article locates car cultures (and their associated feelings) within a broader physical/material relational setting that includes both human bodies and car bodies, and the relations between them and the spaces through which they move (or fail to move). Drawing on both the phenomenology of car use and new approaches in the sociology of emotions, it is argued that everyday car cultures are implicated in a deep context of affective and embodied relations between people, machines and spaces of mobility and dwelling in which emotions and the senses play a key part – the emotional geographies of car use. Feelings for, of and within cars (‘automotive emotions’) come to be socially and culturally generated across three scales involved in the circulations and displacements performed by cars, roads and drivers: embodied sensibilities and kinaesthetic performances; familial and sociable practices of ‘caring’ through car use; and regional and national car cultures that form around particular systems of automobility. By showing how people feel about and in cars, and how the feel of different car cultures generates habitual forms of automobilized life and different dispositions towards driving, it is argued that we will be in a better position to re-evaluate the ethical dimensions of car consumption and the moral economies of car use.

Item Type:
Journal Article
Journal or Publication Title:
Theory, Culture and Society
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RAE_import_type : Journal article RAE_uoa_type : Sociology
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Deposited On:
13 Mar 2008 16:10
Last Modified:
21 Nov 2022 20:11