THE SOCIAL ORDERS OF THE ROAD
In trying to produce a "big picture" perspective of social life,
one that gives some order to the net sum of human activities and insight into
how social structure emerges from interpersonal interactions, sociologists
employ a number of metaphors. Here consider road-related phenomena as the metaphoric frame
by which all social actions are understood. Like society's rules and norms,
roadways and driving laws evolved to maximize the number of individuals
reaching their destinations within a given time-frame. There emerge such
"macro" phenomena as:
- a moral order, ranging from the laws
actively enforced by police and traffic courts to the mores and norms
(common courtesies) of other drivers (with enforcements through demeaning
gestures and road rage).
- Methodologically, the moral order of various communities'
road systems can be compared employing such measures as drive-by shootings.
Click here to see rates various age groups are
- With the threat of war in the Middle East, Americans' attentions
returned to matters of fuel efficiency. Drivers of SUVs were
depicted as contributing to terrorism because of their gas guzzlers.
Some wondered what Jesus
- various social systems arising because of the road [oil, automotive,
automotive materials (steel, plastics, glass, repair], highway, concrete
and asphalt, ), the elite orders they spawn (i.e., the Rockefellers and
Fords) and the power they exercise over the political economy (ability
to make or fend off laws regarding pollution controls, auto safety and gas
The Roadway System
To push our driving-as-social life metaphor further, roadways are the various social pathways people take
to reach their lives' destinations. The more unique the destination the
smaller and less developed the road--and the fewer the norms and rules.
Being totally off the road with one's 4-wheel-drive is thus an expression of
- AA Roads on the ribbons of asphalt and concrete
that link people to people
- Roadside Peek "An Adventure in Time"
- Interstate 50th
- William Beaty's "Traffic Waves: Physics for Bored Commuters
"just one driver can vastly improve traffic"
- The Traffic Signal Museum
- Highway Statistics Series from the
Federal Highway Administration
- Federal Highway
- The WWW Speedtrap
WARNINGS & CONSULAR INFO SHEETS
Meshing the Needs of Self and Society: Smart
Roads and Dumb Drivers
- Kathy Stolley's "Sitting in Traffic?"
- Leon James and Diane Nahl's Road Rage and Aggressive Driving: Steering Clear of Highway Warfare
Inc.: A brief history of the first 100 years of the automobile in the U.S.
- Automotive History-The Assembly Line
Pushing the Product: Madison Avenue
- History of VW Ads
Return to Index of
The Sociology of the Road