In the Company of Cars by Sarah Redshaw

By Sarah Redshaw

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Thanks to Professor Ien Ang, Director, Centre for Cultural Research for the duration of the Driving Cultures program of research and the Director of Research Services at the university Gar Jones for their support of initial and subsequent grant proposals. The intellectual exchange possible with other researchers including Fiona Allon, Sharon Chalmers, Greg Gow, Anne Hurni and Elizabeth Cassity through the Centre for Cultural Research was stimulating and challenging. Professor Graeme Turner, Director of the Centre for Critical and Cultural Research at the University of Queensland has offered invaluable advice and support.

Technological developments have reduced the impact of the car on the environment and improved handling, however, cars have had an enormous impact on the way communities function and how we live our lives. In all of this the car is implicated in important ways in shaping who we are. The car is part of a network of mobility that has, along with other factors, fundamentally changed the way we live. The psychological research that is central in road safety tends overwhelmingly to focus on the individual without really drawing on individual experience or attempting to relate individual ideals back to broader cultural ideals.

What does being a driver demand of us? The social and cultural factors involved in our attachment to the car and contributing to issues of road safety will be explored in this book. We can be largely unaware of these factors in considering cars and driving in traditional ways, since driving is an everyday practice that we take very much for granted. Nevertheless, the car shapes us in particular ways and makes demands of us as citizens through the driving cultures and car networks we are now immersed in (Sheller and Urry 2001).

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