(P09)
A new anthropology of automobility
Location Chancellery Building, A1-017
Date and Start Time 05 Dec, 2018 at 11:15
Sessions 2

Convenors

  • Sarah Pink (Monash University ) email
  • Andrew Dawson (University of Melbourne) email

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Short abstract

This panel will bring theory and ethnography to bear on how how the past, present and future of driving are implicated in human life, experience, action and imaginaries. It will carve out a new anthropology of automobility.

Long abstract

Driving is deeply embedded in the ways lives and worlds are sustained globally, yet it also maintains an ongoing possibility of death, injury, accidents and serendipitous encounters that change the course of lives. In this panel we are interested in papers that bring theory and ethnography to bear on how how the past, present and future of driving are implicated in human life, experience, action and imaginaries.

The ethnographic sites we are interested in are broad as our core interest is to develop new modes of anthropological thought about and engagement with questions about driving. This includes for instance areas such as everyday commuting, road trips, driving as fieldwork, drink driving, self driving vehicles, driving in unusual places. We are also interested in interdisciplinary papers that bring anthropological insights together with fields such as human geography, design, human-computer interaction and other fields, as well as anthropological responses to the wider landscape of driving research and scholarship.

Ultimately the panel will carve out a new anthropology of automobility. We invite participants to join us on this journey.

This panel is closed to new paper proposals.

Papers

How do we learn to know a self-driving car? A pedagogical design anthropology approach to human - technology interaction

Authors: Vaike Fors (Halmstad university) email
Sarah Pink (Monash University ) email
Thomas Lindgren (Halmstad University) email
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Short abstract

This paper demonstrates how a pedagogical design anthropological approach introduces a way of understanding use of self-driving vehicles beyond interactional accounts, by focusing on how technologies become meaningful in the contexts of mundane everyday life circumstances.

Long abstract

How will autonomous driving (AD) features change how people will relate to, and act in and with cars? To understand these and similar questions, research within human-computer interaction (HCI) is concerned with how people will react and interact with the autonomous driving features while driving a self-driving car, and how these features can be designed to be perceived as both easy to use and useful. In this paper we demonstrate how a pedagogical design anthropological approach can push this agenda further by introducing a way of understanding use of AD that accounts for how technologies become meaningful in the contexts of the mundane everyday life circumstances in which they are actually used. This approach entails understanding use of technology beyond the moment of human-technology interaction, as a process in which experiential ways of knowing take over from rational action, and meaning becomes generated through the ongoing use of technologies in everyday life processes. In the context user experience of AD, this translates into a focus on how people learn to use AD features, and to imagine possible experiences of AD in ways that are situated in the mundane routines of everyday life.

We will draw on our ethnographic research into everyday life experiences and expectations of AD cars undertaken between 2016-18, to demonstrate how people need these technologies to become part of their everyday lives, and subsequently need to learn to use them in order to accomplish everyday goals.

Into the eye of the Road Safety storm: a eye(and ear)witness account

Author: Manuel Ramos (ISCTE - University Institute of Lisbon) email
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Short abstract

This paper looks at the distorted way the institutional world of UNRSC perceives the realities of road danger in low-income countries.

Long abstract

In May 2011, the UN has inaugurated the Global Decade of Action for Road Safety. This initiative marked a decisive turn in the institutional views on road danger worldwide, strengthening the WHO epidemiologist concept that road accidents causing injuries and deaths are a public health issue to be dealt medically, or rather through the promotion of metaphorical medical discourses and the putting in place of preventing practices.

The composition, dynamics and negotiation processes of the UNRSC, a mixed UN forum with consultative status for the UN secretary general, impact directly on the national policies connected to the Decade of Action, for it was from such body that this global initiative was funnelled, and it is this body that monitors and evaluates it.

The present paper proposal offers a sneak view of how the UNRSC was involved in bringing low-income countries, regional organisations and NGOs to the Decade of Action initiative, and how difficult it is to gauge the current reality of road risk in the emerging world from the too abstract and formal world which UNRSC partners inhabit.

Life and death in a place-non-place

Author: Anthony McInneny (University of Newcastle) email
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Short abstract

Driving the M3 free/tollway in Melbourne registers both Marc Augé's and Peter Merriman's places of automobility. This paper presents two temporal, urban interventions. The first concerns nature as life and the second the permissibility of commemorative memorials of a death that may also dwell.

Long abstract

Peter Merriman argues that the processes of consultation, design, construction and ultimate use of a motorway create a place from automobility. Marc Augé identifies this infrastructure for the rapid movement of goods and people as being a place devoid of history, relations or identity: a non-place where the anthropology is that of us as the other.

The publicly built, owned and managed Eastern Freeway (F19) was constructed in four stages over 25 years (1971-1996) and traverses 18 kilometres of Melbourne's eastern suburbs. It is a piece of modernist road engineering and design that was the site of the most violent and protracted urban battle in Melbourne's history. The Eastlink Tollway is the privatized extension of the F19. It was constructed in multiple sections simultaneously over 4 years (2002-2006). Its structure is of postmodern design and described as a 39-kilometre artwork. The union of these two roads was the site of protest resulting in a tunnel to conserve natural habitat. The public F19 and the private Eastlink share the name M3 but each retains their respective caricature of place and non-place in design and use.

Driving time in this space (2006 - 2014) served as a longitudinal and experiential site assessment to create two sets of temporal interventions in the M3 as place-non-place. The first is based in nature (waterways and flora) as a life that dwells in this landscape. The second concerns the permissibility of commemorative roadside memorials as signifying a death that may also dwell in this place.

Mixing drive-along ethnography and WOz testing on public roads: the example of control hand-over experience

Authors: Katalin Osz (Halmstad University) email
Kaspar Raats email
Thomas Lindgren (Halmstad University) email
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Short abstract

In this paper, we examine how an anthropological understanding of driving can benefit from engaging with engineering and design based experimental testing in the context of developing autonomous driving cars for future mobility.

Long abstract

In this paper, we examine how an anthropological understanding of driving can benefit from engaging with engineering and design based experimental testing. We suggest that blending ethnographic practice with other disciplinary practices is productive of new modes of understanding how people might experience possible future Autonomous Driving (AD) cars. Generally, experimental User Experience (UX) research within the development of AD cars is still dominated by engineering methodologies but lately, design-anthropological approaches have started to be incorporated for a more human-centric and participatory ways to design for future mobility. Wizard of Oz (WOz) testing is a method that allows people to experience AD in the presence of a safety driver who takes over control to simulate the car driving itself. By using a Volvo XC90, we combined experimental UX testing and design anthropology. Family home visits and drive-along ethnography were combined with WOz testing on public roads, in order to investigate how people might experience AD cars as part of their morning commutes. By focusing on the moment of handing over control to the car, we show the mutual benefit of building collaborative testing practices. From the perspective of anthropology, the AD experience gives participants a speculative platform where they can reflect on how various control handover solutions might fit into their own driving practices. From the perspective of engineering testing, speculative future ethnography provides foresight into a variety of existing and possible future driving routines, making the control handover development more attentive to a diversity of routines and expectations.

On the coach on the road on the porters' annual day out: More of the same

Author: Nigel Rapport (St. Andrews University) email
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Short abstract

Superficially, the coach journey to the Scottish Grand National at Ayr Race Course was a typically liminal transition. But considering how the drive and the coach were experienced by the hospital porters, the journey would have to be seen as an extension of their ordinary authentic manly selves.

Long abstract

Ron's name was one of the first on the list when the sign for the 'Good Old Boys Trip' to the Scottish Grand National, at Ayr Race Course, was put up on the buckie wall. I signed up too, and soon there were 26 names. People seemed pleased my name was on the list: 'It's the day, Nigel!', Frank assured me: The best possible day out!. You'll see!'.

On the face of it, the coach journey to the race course and back was a typical site of liminal transitioning—recalling, say, Barbara Myerhoff's (1974) account of the peyote hunt of the Huichol Indians, and the ritual reversals or exceptions they practised as they travelled to the sacred world and back in a Dormobile. But considering how the drive and the coach were implicated in the porters' life, I would have to conclude: more of the same; no exceptionalism. Just as they insisted on doing every day at work, the space and time of the coach journey became an extension of the porters' authentic manly selves. Their experience, action and imaginaries on the coach journey—as I experienced them—saw the porters as they insisted ordinarily on being. They moved around the coach and occupied it, they engaged in their activities, with a nervous energy, a restlessness and an assertiveness, that I knew all too well from the hospital itself.

The paper is an attempt to bring Ron and Frank's and their peers' behaviour to life and to light.

Put some music on: listening to the radio in the car

Author: Simone Dennis (Australian National University) email
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Short abstract

What kinds of rhythms of driving and music draw cars, the practice of automobilic operation, and singing and listening so seamlessly together? These questions are of as much interest to anthropologists as they are to Big Auto.

Long abstract

In the US, and indeed across the western world, the car is the place where the largest percentage of people listen to music. Ford recently released its 2017 study (ahead of the release of its new, high end audio system to be installed in selected models from 2018) announcing the result that seven out of 10 people between the ages of 13 and 24 and nearly 8 out of 10 drivers over the age of 45 listen to music in the car to justify its enormous investment in the new system. Ahead of that result, Edison Research found that, AM/FM radio still commands most of consumers' time when they are in a car, accounting for 57 percent of their time. In this paper, I want to explore a range of music-car entailments to arrive at an unapologetically phenomenological analysis of the musicalized and automobilised person. This figure is thoroughly entailed in the big and micro politics of driving, the relations of knowledge and information in late capitalism, the relations of an enclosed acoustics that both reach out to and cut us off from the road itself, and the beat of a pervasive rhythm of life on the move.

Trust in self driving cars

Authors: Sarah Pink (Monash University ) email
Kaspar Raats email
Vaike Fors (Halmstad university) email
Katalin Osz (Halmstad University) email
Thomas Lindgren (Halmstad University) email
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Short abstract

In this paper we propose and demonstrate a design anthropological approach to the question of trust in Autonomous Driving (AD) cars (sometimes called self driving cars).

Long abstract

In this paper we propose and demonstrate a design anthropological approach to the question of trust in Autonomous Driving (AD) cars (sometimes called self driving cars). Mobilising a design anthropological theory of trust (Pink et al 2018), we propose an understanding how and why people will trust in AD cars which takes three novel moves to: go beyond psychological theories of trust that are conventionally applied in Human-Computer-Interaction (HCI) and User Experience (UX) research and practice by understanding the social, material and sensory circumstances through which trust emerges; rethink how the car is conceptualised as a product; imagine new relationships between designers, companies and users. These moves are related to three analytical steps that we explain in full below, but now preface by highlighting that they involve: moving beyond the transactional and interactional theories of trust and towards understanding trust in technologies as a contingent outcome of ongoingly emergent circumstances; understanding the car (and technologies more generally) as an always incomplete and unfinished 'thing', always in progress, and always likely to assemble with other things in unanticipated ways; and considering therefore how these new understandings of trust and technologies imply new relationships between designers, companies and users which would be responsive to the contingencies that surround people's relationships with AD cars and services, and to the car as an ongoingly emergent and changing product rather than as a finished object.

This panel is closed to new paper proposals.