Automobility and the liberal disposition

S. C. Rajan
Indian Institute of Technology, Madras
     Automobility, or the entire gamut of practices that foster car culture, qualifies both as product and producer of modernity. Its constitutive visual image is one of dignified convoys of individual cars, vehicles whose solitary drivers can remain separated from each other as they collectively pursue private goals on public highways. While liberalism and automobility seem to have an important symbiotic relationship in modern social formations, there is near complete blindness to automobility in liberal political theory. I contend, however, that the impacts of the automobility-liberalism combine are important beyond the boundaries of the cultural and economic relations between cars and lifestyles; the fusion exerts an influence on even larger arenas of political ideology.This paper explores some of the family resemblances between the ideas of liberal theory and the practices of automobility, in particular how ideas about autonomy have taken refuge in spatial metaphors of automobility
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