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Vägval: lastbilsförare i fjärrtrafik - perspektiv på yrkeskultur och genus
Umeå University, Faculty of Arts, Department of culture and media studies.
2003 (English)Doctoral thesis, monograph (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

This thesis is an ethnological study of the truck-driver profession and an examination of the prerequisites for sexual equality and diversity in the haulage branch. The aim is to: from a cultural perspective, with a special focus on gender and masculinity, study truck-drivers as an occupational group. A main question deals with male dominance within the haulage business. What supports this dominance and what possibilities exist for change?

The cultural phenomena within the trucking business are analysed with a particular focus on class. The collective idea, that I found among truck-drivers and haulage firm owners, of a kind of self-imposed “underdog identity’* is important to my analyses. Within the group, however, disloyal competition is widespread. The employment process for drivers is built on responsibility. The driver must prove himself sufficiently reliable before the employer will hand over responsibility for truck, cargo and the assignment itself. Since those who lack the collectively accepted indicators of competence/responsibility have difficulty gaining employment, a kind of “catch 22” situation is created, which is reinforced by the truck-drivers’ “underdog identity”. Those who share the values and outer features with the majority receive considerable advantages in the employment process,which adds to what is already a widespread male dominance and strengthens the cultural homogeneity.

The truck-drivers* relationship to freedom forms a “key symbol” in the analysis. The Swedish haulage branch is investigated using Yvonne Hirdman’s gender contract, which makes visible how perceptions of masculinity have been given normative status within the haulage business. Another theme in the analysis is the “masculine manuscript” — embodied by a wellbehaved and reliable, middle-aged, white (Swedish), heterosexual man with a working class upbringing. The manuscript functions as a kind of ideal with which drivers are compared. Those who fit the manuscript are afforded considerable advantages, above all in the recruitment process.

In order to draw attention to different types of power within the haulage business, Robert W. Connels’ term hegemonic masculinity is used. With some reservations one can express the long-distance truck-driver as an ideal with hegemonic status within the context of haulage. This category of driver has considerable influence on the definition of how a “real” driver should be and on ideas of how transport work is best organised. This group of drivers is relatively small, but its symbolic influence is large.

From a gender perspective, the aim is to “grapple” with the images of truck-drivers, both within and outside of the business. The attitude to the trucker myths is critical. The masculinity ideal of the trucker myth is about the right to seek personal freedom and to live exclusively in and for the truck. Possible explanations for the interest in truck-drivers are discussed with the help of the concept of “masculinity crisis” and George L. Mosses* figure of thought: “the male stereotype”.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Göteborg: Etnologiska institutionen, Göteborgs universitet , 2003. , 218 p.
Etnologiska skrifter, ISSN 1103-6516 ; 29
, Skrifter från Etnologiska föreningen i Västsverige, ISSN 0283-0930 ; 41
Keyword [en]
gender, masculinity, working culture, reflexivity, truck-driver, male myths, trucker, gender equality, freedom, participant observation, haulage business, class
National Category
URN: urn:nbn:se:umu:diva-100375ISBN: 91-85838-63-2 (inb.)OAI: diva2:792500
Public defence
2003-06-06, Hörsal F, Humanisthuset, Umeå universitet, Umeå, 10:00

Diss. Umeå : Univ., 2003

Available from: 2015-03-04 Created: 2015-03-02 Last updated: 2015-04-10Bibliographically approved

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