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Automobile malfunction in personal narrative and everyday life

by Claypool, Richard C.

Abstract (Summary)
Hai Ren, Advisor Critical everyday life scholarship tends to theorize the domain of everyday life as a site of struggle between institutional power, or strategies, and resistance, or tactics. Nevertheless, moments of everyday crisis such as technological malfunction have been largely ignored, and researchers tend to emphasize everyday practices in moments of relative normality. This study has sought to address this gap through analyses of a particular kind of everyday crisis, the automobile malfunction. By analyzing personal narratives of automobile malfunction experiences, I have attempted to highlight the critical potential of these narratives. I conducted in-depth interviews with eight automobile drivers to gather these personal narratives about automobile malfunctions. The theories used to interpret these stories included those of Marxian critical theorists such as Michel de Certeau and Henri Lefebvre, and folklorists such as Sandra Dolby-Stahl. The application of theory enabled an emphasis on the resistant and propriety-centered elements of my informants’ narratives. The automobile malfunction stories express implicit and explicit critique of the automobile’s role in everyday life, as my informants described tactics for getting away without repairs, using the malfunction as a way to get out of work, and relying on strangers for automobile assistance, among other things. As everyday discourse, their stories counter the discourse of automobile advertising, which emphasizes freedom, independence, speed, mobility, and safety. Many of my informants seemed to recognize iii these utopian promises of capitalism as broken promises, and their stories and comments suggested everyday crises such as automobile malfunctions may fuel the creation and spread of cultural critique in everyday life. However, these critiques tend to remain grounded in the priorities of everyday life, so the maintenance of communal propriety appears to supersede political or critical concerns. iv
Bibliographical Information:

Advisor:

School:Bowling Green State University

School Location:USA - Ohio

Source Type:Master's Thesis

Keywords:personal narratives automobiles

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