I have been trying to write abstracts for each of my chapters and I have found it very difficult. This morning I realised that, taking into account that I have less than one year left and that I want to finish in this time, I may have to shift the focus of my dissertation. I think of my thesis as a technology of performance. It needs to satisfy certain conditions, which involves sacrifices compromised in negotiations with imposed restrictions. The resultant portmanteau used is ‘satisficing’. I have been working under the delusion that I could do what I want and still get it done…
I have been resisting this shift ever since I began my research and came across interested people who would ask me about my project. After a short spiel from me, I would inevitably be asked the question, “So you are writing about hoons then?” I would reply with something like, “No, I am not writing about ‘hoons’, because that is what the dominant culture calls ‘them’ and it is a term belonging to the dominant culture.”
Even though I have had this idealised image of my project in my head — involving a genealogy of contemporary modified-car enthusiasm, elaborate expositions of the cultural economy, the role of the subcultural media in this economy, the relations between enthusiasts and broader or ‘parent’ cultures of mobility, practices of enthusiasts (modifying, racing, showing, etc) and lastly the relations between the figure of the ‘hoon’ and dominant enthusiast and non-enthusiast cultures — I now realise that I have been mobilising myself entirely in an effort to account for the ‘hoon’ in all the above. (Even my interviews have been hoon-centric!!)
I really need to talk to my supervisors about this, I know, and they will probably want to shoot me!!!! [sigh…] But perhaps I will have to shift from a proposed focus on modified-car enthusiasm to a much more localised focus on the ‘hoon’. Even though it would not be as cool as my current working title (“Modified: Cars and Culture”), I think I could imagine producing a thesis simply entitled “The Hoon” or something like that. lol! But why this relatively drastic shift? The simple fact of the matter is that all the things I want to say, and which quite frankly need to be said, relate much more to a ‘hoon’-centric thesis than anything else. What I had been trying to do over the last two years was sociological research (stake out the complex social terrain of modified-car culture), but after the activities of the last couple of weeks, I realise that I am certainly not a sociologist. I do cultural studies.
…or maybe I am just shitting myself. Dunno. I need to get it done in a year. To me that means I need to write the thesis that I know will pass and I will be able to complete in a year. This sucks.