Moving, Assembling, Breaking Down: Sexual Automobility in Fordist Time and Space

Jake Buckley
In Volume 1, Issue 2
Autumn 2010

Abstract

This paper reinterprets bodily movements in Fordism, the major period of economic and social restructuring that took place in early-twentieth-century America and which subsequently spread throughout western nation-states. I engage at length with Fordism’s key notion: automobility. The Fordist way of life was modelled on the efficiently timed production and consumption of Ford motor cars. Sociologists and historians have argued that the automobile was instrumental to Fordism’s oppression of bodies, because the automobile represented a means of escapism for workers and consumers but in fact secured these subjects’ compliance with exploitative relations of class and gender. I intervene in these debates, however, by arguing that the notion of automobility is not reducible to the car’s reifying function, but can instead be used to uncover sexually significant movements betweens bodies and the technological objects produced on the Fordist assembly line. In sexual automobility, making contact with the car gives rise to subversive acts that do not imply an attempted departure or escape from Fordist time and space.

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