Love them or hate them, most of us have an opinion about cars. If not the cars themselves, then it’s driver competence and behaviour that can offend us. And then there’s modification: alloy wheels, custom audio systems and bespoke paint jobs. For some, changing the look, feel and sound of a car says something about themselves, but for others, such enhancements signify a lack of taste, or even criminality.
In subtle and complex ways, cars transmit and modify our identities behind the wheel. As a symbol of independence and freedom, the car projects status, class, taste and, significantly, embeds racialisation. Using fascinating research from drivers, including first-person accounts as well as exploring hip-hop music and car-related TV shows, Alam unpicks the ways in which identity is rehearsed, enhanced, interpreted.
“A fascinating exploration of how identities are expressed through urban consumption. … encourages us to reflect anew about our own entangled relationship with material objects and mobilities“ John Eade, University of Roehampton
"This outstanding book shows in an exemplary way how social science can help us understand diverse experiences. Alam is an eye opener." Jörg Hüttermann, University of Bielefeld
“Offers new and important insights through the lens of the car into the everyday lives and identities of young British Muslim men and women, rendering them at once mundane and richly textured. A masterclass in the sociological imagination.” Claire Alexander, University of Manchester
“Brings to life the real identity, rights of passage, status and social meanings attached to both driving and car owning, timeless.” Jillian Anable, University of Leeds
‘’A brilliant exploration of the sociology of everyday life using the icon of the age of ‘the car’ to situate identity.’’ Yunas Samad, Lahore University of Management Sciences
“This important book explores the significance of the car within the cultural life of ethnic minority communities. Through fascinating personal accounts, racial and class bias are examined, and simplistic stereotypes challenged.” Alan MacDonald, HM Assistant Chief Inspector of Probation
“Alam’s focus is the humble car, but his analysis and rich insights reveal the centrality of these objects in producing and sustaining key aspects of social life – our identities and persistent inequalities of race, taste and class. A must read.” Nathan Manning, University of Adelaide
Yunis Alam is a sociologist, working at the University of Bradford. His research interests span ethnic relations, popular culture, ethnography and postcolonial literatures. He has also published a number of novels and short stories.