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SIEF2013 11th Congress: Tartu, Estonia.
30 June - 4 July, 2013

SIEF2013: Circulation

Tartu, Estonia; 30th June - 4th July

(P52)

Cycling: past, present and future

Location Ülikooli 18, 226
Date and Start Time 02 July, 2013 at 10:30

Convenors

Lars-Eric Jönsson (Lund University) email
Charlotte Hagstrom (Lund University) email
Mail All Convenors

Short Abstract

The bicycle stems from the industrialized society. It is and has been used for many different purposes, for transport as well as racing and fun. This panel invites papers dealing with cycling and bicycles from various pespectives. The aim is to explore new angles on cycling, now and then.

Long Abstract

The Bicycle is an obvious artifact stemming from the modern or industrialized society. It is and has been used for many different purposes, for transport and communication as well as racing and fun. It can also been seen as a tool for freedom, new opportunities, citizenship, class struggle, equality and, witch is often stressed today, as one of many tools to reach a sustainable society and way of living. But there are also many differences, in time and space, in how the bicycle as a material object and cycling as an activity are perceived. In one setting and location cycling may be perceived as a "natural" and everyday mode of transportation. Somewhere else cycling may be seen strictly as a sports activity or associated mainly with children. Cycling is thus an activity full of paradoxes: riding a bike can at the same time be associated with poverty and wealth, with modernity and backwardness, with independence and restrictions.

This panel invites papers dealing with cycling and bicycles from various perspectives. This includes, for example, topics related to cycling and gender, age and/or class, cycling and health, cycling and safety, cycling and work/leisure, and cycling as sport. The aim of the panel is to, together with its contributors, investigate and propose new angles on cycling and bicycling, in the past, the present and the future.

This panel is closed to new paper proposals.

Papers

Tjejvättern: an autoethnography of Sweden's largest women-only bicycle race

Author: Karin S. Lindelöf (Uppsala University)  email

Short Abstract

This paper presents material from an ongoing research project that aims to analyze sports races for women as a cultural phenomenon. One of these is Tjejvättern, Sweden’s largest women-only bicycle race. In this paper, the author attempts to present an autoethnography of the Tjejvättern race.

Long Abstract

This paper presents empirical material from an ongoing research project that aims to analyze sports races for women, so-called tjejlopp, as a cultural phenomenon, historically and today, in Sweden and with international comparisons.

The project is based on ethnographic fieldwork, archive studies and written stories from participants in four different races. One of these is Tjejvättern, Sweden's largest women-only bicycle race, which began in 1991 and now attracts 5-6000 participants every year. The 100 km track starts and ends in the town of Motala, by Sweden's second-largest lake, Vättern, and is cycled by all kinds of women, with all kinds of bicycles: from fast racers to women who make use of their everyday transportation vehicle to enjoy the scenic route and friendly atmosphere of the race.

In this paper, an autoethnography of the Tjejvättern race will be presented. In autoethnographical work, the researcher uses herself in an explicit way throughout the research process, by documenting and analyzing her own thoughts, emotions and experiences in the same way as other ethnographic material, e.g. created through interviews and observations. Autoethnography is an explicitly reflexive method, when creating the data as well as when analyzing and writing. In this case the researcher has consciously participated in the bicycle race herself, and the paper is an attempt to make proper scientific use of this experience.

Riding through life: understanding life-histories through the bicycle

Author: Charlotte Hagstrom (Lund University)  email

Short Abstract

This paper presents an analysis of a number of responses to an open-ended questionnaire about cycling. Interpreting narratives about their bicycle as material object and their riding abilities, it discusses the independence, freedom and wellbeing that surface in these individuals’ life-histories.

Long Abstract

This paper presents an analysis of a number of responses to an open-ended questionnaire about cycling. Interpreting narratives about their bicycle as material object and their riding abilities, it discusses the independence, freedom and wellbeing that surface in these individuals' life-histories This paper, which is based on responses to an open-ended questionnaire about cycling, interprets a number of individuals' life-biography through the bicycle as material object and through the ability to ride it. When describing experiences and emotions associated with cycling, the questionnaire respondents often relate them to specific events in their lives, for example, taking the bike to the grocery store marking a significant move to a new geographic location. Some significant recurring themes are analysed from a life-cycle perspective.

The material is a selection from an on-going documentation project whose aim is to collect stories and memories of, and attitudes towards, bicycling: Bicycles and bicyclists: yesterday, today, tomorrow. It is run by The Folklife Archives at Lund University, Sweden. "The questionnaire" is one of several methods applied in the project and has been distributed to the archive's network of regular informants. These are people of different ages and occupations living in various parts of Sweden who answer two to three questionnaires per year about all kinds of topics. This diverse group turned out to include all kinds of cyclists: reluctant practitioners who hardly ever use the bike, everyday cyclists who transport themselves as well as groceries and children in all kind of weathers, as well as passionate riders participating in races.

Cycling as fun in Norway and Sweden

Author: Anders Gustavsson (University of Oslo)  email

Short Abstract

My paper regard the question how cycling has been experienced by cyclists as fun in Norway and Sweden from the past till today. How have the motives changed over time, according to age, gender, season, social status, economy, and way of life?

Long Abstract

My paper regard the question how cycling has been experienced by cyclists for pleasure in Norway and in Sweden from the past till today. The sense of cycling is in focus. Which are the expressions for the pleasure? Relevant research concepts are recreation, freedom, independence, tourism, exercise, health (physical and psychical), nature, ground, environment, holiday, work/leisure, safety, status, and economy. The relevance of these concepts may change over time. I am interested in cultural processes. Analytical aspects are age, gender, class, continuity and change, way of life, and self-esteem. Which conditions during different times may increase and decrease the pleasure respectively? Are there opposites of the pleasure and how are they perceived by the cyclists? How can such opposites be restricted during different times, for example with helmets and ice prods in recent times? My material is to be found in Norwegian and Swedish folklore archives. New narrative material will be collected through appeals from the archives in Gothenburg and Oslo during the year 2013. I will be able to compare the contents of narratives about senses and feelings from the two neighbour countries. Is it possible to discern national differences and which are the causes behind them? My special interest for this topic depends on my interest for cycling and personal experiences of pleasure. One of my earlier research fields has concerned tourism in Norway and Sweden. I have met the phenomenon bicycling-tourism but not earlier had the possibility to study it in a deeper sense.

"I love Budapest, I bike Budapest?" An anthropological contribution to the study of urban cycling cultures in post-socialist cities

Author: Katalin Tóth (Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich)  email

Short Abstract

Cycling as a mode of everyday transport has quickly grown in Budapest, Hungary in the 2000s. This phenomenon has until now been unique to this city, and hasn't reached the other capitals of region. This paper investigates meanings of cycling in the urban life and imagination of Budapest.

Long Abstract

Within the last decades the number of cyclist has grown yearly over 50% in Budapest, Hungary. This remarkable change in mobility behavior has its roots less in the built environment than in the socio-cultural changes in city life. In contrast to the development of cycling practices in Western European cities, in Budapest, planners and policy makers began to concern themselves with this issue only after the fact. Cycling started as part of a local subculture and its social acceptance as a mode of everyday transport was promoted by grassroots movements. This paper investigates the role of cycling in the changing practices of urban life and imagination of Budapest. I focus on social acceptance as a discursive practice and regard the process of urban transformation as rooted in the changing lifestyles, environmental issues and social disparities of urban life. The paper analyses the spread of cycling in Budapest through the lens of urban anthropology and critical geography, focusing in particular on the production of urban spaces, regulations, and practices of making sense related to cycling. My discussion unfolds at two levels: First, I examine the representations of cycling promotion by the local government and NGO's. Second, I investigate the motivations and the spatial experiences of individual cyclists. My analysis makes a unique contribution to the study of mobility cultures in post-socialist cities by putting the emphasis on the role of anthropological aspects in the shaping of cycling geographies.

Bicycle clothing and women's liberation

Author: Marianne Larsson (Nordiska museet)  email

Short Abstract

Though divided skirts were almost unthinkable in the female costume in the late 1800's, fashion magazines published patterns and descriptions of bicycle garments. The paper discusses the bicycle and its demands for functional clothing as part of the women emancipation process in the late 1800's.

Long Abstract

In the collections of Nordiska museet in Stockholm there are several women's garments referring to cycling, but only one item, a "velocipede jacket", originates from the late 1800's, when cycling broke through and became a pleasure among the bourgeoisie. It is clear that the bike attracted to women from the beginning, but at the end of the 1800th century, fashion dictated tightly laced waists and full-length skirts. The clothes were a hindrance that the female cyclist must challenge. Women's unpractical clothing was already debated. With Anglo-Saxon countries as a model, the Swedish Dress Reform Association was founded in 1886. The aim was to promote that women's clothing should became more practical, comfortable and healthy. Women who straddled a bicycle aroused indignation in some circles, especially among men, but though divided skirts were almost unthinkable in the female costume, fashion magazines published patterns and descriptions of bike garments. In this paper I investigate representations of cycling and bicycle clothing in some fashion magazines dated to the late 1800's. When the bike got its real triumph for a broader public in the 1930s, calf-length cycling shorts, made of light cotton fabrics, were launched. In 1938 the majority of Swedish workers and employees were entitled to two weeks' vacation, and the cycling holiday became one of the great recreational activities. This paper discusses the bicycle and its demands for functional clothing as part of the women emancipation process in the late 1800's and the early 1900's.

Biking consumers: bags, bikes and sustainability

Authors: Niklas Sörum (University of Gothenburg)  email
Helene Brembeck (University of Gothenburg)  email

Short Abstract

The aim of the paper is to discuss discrepancies between cycling as a represented sustainable form of urban transportation as promoted in policy programs in Sweden and cyclists’ experiences of bringing goods back from the store.

Long Abstract

Things are not always consumed at the same place where they were obtained and this generates a mobility of moving things that the consumer is responsible for, i.e. a mundane consumer logistic conducted by customers while moving things from stores to places where the things are used. Means of transport and carrying for "getting this work done", for example bicycles, are not essentially enabling or disabling: for the strong, healthy and able-bodied, cycling equals healthy pleasure and leisure but the slightly "over-carrying" person moving recent purchases might perceive the physical environment more in terms of risk than aesthetic pleasure. The aim of the paper is to discuss discrepancies between cycling as a represented sustainable form of urban transportation as promoted in policy programs in Sweden and cyclists' experiences of bringing goods back from the store. Over the last ten or more years bicycling has reached a top place on both the academic and policy agenda in search for ways to increase use of bicycles as they are seen as healthy and sustainable means of urban transportation. When doing everyday consumer errands like grocery shopping, any aesthetic pleasure, effects on health or the environment derived from cycling must be related to experiences of discomfort, physical effort and safety measures. In this paper we confront sustainability transport policy directed towards urban dwellers with an ethnographic analysis of biking consumers. We combine data obtained through in-depth interviews and "go-along observations" with families with small children and elderly people.

This panel is closed to new paper proposals.