The U.S. car colossus and the production of inequality

by Catherine Lutz

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By Catherine LutzFull Article: onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/amet.12072/abstract

Interview with Catherine Lutz by AE editorial intern Deniz Daser


(image:
http://americanethnologist.org/wp-content/uploads/sites/2/2014/04/41-2-cover-300x400.jpg alt: A yellow Rolls Royce parked outside shops on Rodeo Drive in Beverly Hills, California. Photo by Allan Tannenbaum. Polaris.

A yellow Rolls Royce parked outside shops on Rodeo Drive in Beverly Hills, California. Photo by Allan Tannenbaum. Polaris.

) A yellow Rolls Royce parked outside shops on Rodeo Drive in Beverly Hills, California. Photo by Allan Tannenbaum. Polaris.The contemporary world is one of restless mobilities, radically morphing physical landscapes, baroque technologies, new forms of governance and subjectivity, and onerous inequalities. The automobile provides vivid insight into all five phenomena as well as into their relationship. I ask how the car-dependent mobility system of the United States not only reflects but also intensively generates the inequalities that characterize U.S. society. I propose that “compulsory consumption” and the automobile’s centrality to the current regime of accumulation can help account for this. Theories of inequality and mobility, I suggest, can be adapted to account for the automobile industry’s capture of contemporary life.