diss abstract

First draft of an abstract for the new dissertation structure. I think I may have too much. Hmmm…

Modified: Cars, Culture and Event Mechanics

This thesis investigates the enthusiasm, scenes and cultural industry of contemporary modified-car culture in Australia. The introduction elaborates this study’s main keywords (“event”, “enthusiasm”, “modified cars”, “scene”), contexts and historical eras (globalising Australia, spectacle, online sociality, “street rodding”, “street machining”, “import culture”) and methods (participatory fieldwork, archival research, poststructuralist theory). Chapter 1 engages with the affective relations and event of enthusiasm by drawing on the fieldwork example of an organised ‘cruise’. Chapter 2 extends this engagement by outlining the serial nature of the problematic event of enthusiasm in the context of fieldwork examples and the practical knowledge of ‘know how’. Chapter 3 examines the ‘scene’ as another dimension of the event of enthusiasm and begins the historical analysis of contemporary modified-car culture with the militant culture and institutions of the 1970s era of ‘street rodding’. Chapter 4 builds on the notion of the scene and examines the 1980s era of ‘street machining’ through the spectacular transformations of the scene by following the professionalising trajectory of cultural entrepreneur Chic Henry in the creation of the Summernats car show as an emergent synergy in the cultural industry. Chapter 5 shifts the analysis again by exploring the role of automotive technologies in the context of the reactionary culture of globalisation belonging to the 1980s ‘street machining’ scene. Chapter 6 returns to the notion of enthusiasm through example of the spectacular ‘pro-street’ style of modification of ‘street machining’ to engage with the way enthusiasm is reduced to a charismatic relation and used as a resource by synergies in the cultural industry. Chapter 7 returns to the history of the culture and follows the ‘fast fours’ movement away from ‘street machining’ as a way to track the emergence of ‘import culture’. Chapter 8 examines cultural politics of modified-car culture through a social ‘know how’ in the context of a globalised modified-car culture and the rise of the ‘imports’. Chapter 9 examines the most recent shift to modified-car culture with the increasing efficacy of online-based sociality through fieldwork examples and the relation of this sociality to the existing spectacular synergies between the cultural industry and the scene. The conclusion surveys the broader cultural context of enthusiasm and the ways the cultural industry invests in scenes to cultivate enthusiasm as a material and cultural resource.

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