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Automobility and masculinities between home and work: trucks as the ‘new normal’ in Newfoundland and Labrador

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Automobiles are ubiquitous objects of private consumption and their meaning and use are shaped by different aspects of identity, including gender. The gender dimensions of automobility associated with particular types of vehicles have not been extensively researched. This article studies pickup trucks and masculinities in relation to home and work in the industrial construction sector in Newfoundland and Labrador, Canada. There, like in much of North America, trucks have become the most commonly purchased new vehicles over the last decade. Their widespread popular appeal contrasts with their historical development for manual labour gendered as masculine, such as farming and fishing, in rural places and environments conducive to such labour. Drawing on interviews with construction industry actors and workers, the article shows how new, expensive trucks have come to reflect the hegemonic masculinity at male-dominated industrial construction projects, while also showing how the meanings and uses of trucks are complex and contested. Trucks are understood to be functional for work and driving, but they are also status symbols, often used only sparingly for commuting, masculinized domestic work and leisure activities. The article unpacks the new and expanding popularity of the truck and its positioning in practice in relation to masculinities, work, and to the landscape in a place-based gender regime. In doing so, it contributes to efforts to contextualize masculinities in place, while also revealing how they are related to gender constructs in other places and at other scales.
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Keywords: Automobility; Canada; construction industry; masculinities; work

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Department of Geography, Hong Kong Baptist University, Kowloon Tong, Hong Kong

Publication date: February 1, 2019

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