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Biketivism and Technology: Historical Reflections and Appropriations

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In Western society bicycling is commonly perceived as either a sport, a form of leisure, an activity for children, or at best, a utilitarian transportation technology. In this paper, I contest these assumptions by discussing ways in which both bicycling and bicycle technologies are politicized as a response to the cultural, social and political norms of Western society. Through historical examples that include 19th century Socialists, ‘first wave' feminists, and 1960's Dutch Anarchists, I provide a theoretical context in which one can understand how present day activists appropriate the bicycle through a dialectic of action and communication. In short, I demonstrate how a seemingly neutral technology (the bicycle) and an everyday activity (bicycling can be utilized as tools for dissent, protest, and cultural critique.

Keywords: Bicycle; Bicycling; Biketivism; Car Culture; Critical Mass; Feminism; Provos; Situationists; Social Movements; Technological Appropriation

Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: October 1, 2005

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