The Tarmac Cowboys: an Ethnographic Study of the Cultural World of Boy Racers
By Zannagh Hatton
Faculty of Arts
University of Plymouth
Through my varying degrees of engagement with the street car culture which existed around the area where 1 lived in Cornwall, 1 had become aware of the extent to which cars played an important role and represented the norm of daily discourse, entered into by others, and particularly young men. Yet as one of the dominant forms of mobility, the car appears to have been a neglected topic within sociology, cultural studies and related disciplines. Furthermore, 1 was unable to find a great deal of academic literature on the combined subjects of young men and motorcars, and in particular how consumption of the car and car related activities are used by some young men to express self-definition. This ethnographic study which has examined the cultural world of boy racers aged between 17 and 24 years is the result of my enquiry.
My research will provide a detailed picture of how young working class men have used ownership of their cars to define who they are, and the sort of life they lead, something that other strains of social enquiry have largely ignored. It will also examine how boy racers have utilised consumption of the car and car-related practices as social capital within their own lived experiences and have used car ownership not only for mobility, but rather as a medium through which they have been able to acquire through performance with their cars, status, self-realisation, and an ‘appropriate’ masculine identity, something which they perceived has been denied them through other means.