Introduct i on
Auto-mobile Ameri ca
All you need to know about American society can be gleaned from an
anthropology of its driving behavior. That behavior tells you much more
than you could ever learn from its political ideas. Drive ten thousand miles
across America and you will know more about the country than all the
institutes of sociology and political science put together.
Jean Baudrillard, America
1
Being a good driver requires the same qualities that are needed if you are
to be a good citizen, a good neighbor, a good son and a good brother.
That would mean that learning to drive must be closely connected with learn-
ing to live. That is exactly so, and accounts for the fact that you cannot
teach people to be good drivers without teaching them the same kind of
things that make them good citizens, good neighbors, good sons and good
brothers. And, as a matter of fact, the converse is true: one very effective
way of learning what it takes to live acceptably in the modern world is by
discovering these things through learning to drive!
Albert Whitney, Man and the Motorcar
2
Jean Baudrillard and Albert Whitney agree that something pro-
found can be learned from automotive driving. They imagine the
automobile as a medium for understanding American society and
as a motor for civic education. As an American pioneer in the field
of traffic safety, Whitney imagined that driver education would
come to be used to teach not only the skills of shifting and steer-
ing, but more profoundly how to “live acceptably in the modern
Previous Page Next Page