Year of Publication

2014

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Document Type

Doctoral Dissertation

College

Arts and Sciences

Department

Geography

First Advisor

Dr. Tad Mutersbaugh

Second Advisor

Dr. Anna Secor

Abstract

Many changes have occurred in the United States trucking industry over the last thirty years. This study examines the effects of these changes by looking at three related themes: life on the road and life at home, body image and bodily health, and the experiences of women and sexual minorities in the industry. This research is based on a discourse analysis of interviews conducted with truck drivers and trucking industry leaders.

Most truck drivers say that they value the independent nature of their workplace. Yet the independence that is a part of the trucker mystique is challenged by increased surveillance and the availability of more invasive surveillance technologies to motor carriers and the United States government. At the same time drivers face long periods of time away from home and they experience disconnection from their families. Families must learn to adapt to the absence of their trucking loved ones which is a difficult task. However, sometimes these adaptations can result in positive changes for partners at home, such as increased independence and more authority in the home.

The bodies of truck drivers are also examined. Many drivers believe that their image as workers has taken a turn for the worst and the bodily presentation plays an important role in image. Drivers seek to set themselves apart from drivers who they think perpetuate negative images of their industry through sloppy dress and a lack of professionalism. At the same time, there is increasing evidence that the working conditions of this industry lead to unhealthy bodies that are diseased and worn out.

Finally, very little has been written about women or gays and lesbians in this workplace. Women represent only five percent of this industry and they face significant barriers to surviving in this occupation because many male workers seek to marginalize them through exclusionary practices like sexual harassment. Members of the LGBT community are represented in the industry and find both comfort and exclusion in trucking. This work also examines the sexual subcultures in trucking such as sex workers and truck chasers.

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