Working with the 'kings of the road': an exploration in the social construction of space




Taylor, Trisha May

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This thesis seeks to explore and challenge our ideas about the space of the truck stop, truck and road by emphasizing the experiences that construct and produce them. First, I expose the current context of the trucking industry. In doing so, I present how the lived experience of truck drivers lends itself well to an explanatory research of space. Next, I objectively review the historical and theoretical discussion of space in anthropology, from poetics and materialist to phenomenological. I focus on unpacking the term space and its social significance. Following my literature review are the methods I employ to collect truck driver narratives, record the experiences of truck drivers, employees and others at the truck stop, and document individual and collective perception(s) of the truck stop, truck and road.

After discussing my use of a grounded theory analysis, I assess the spaces truck drivers move through. I begin with a focus on the road, exploring truck drivers’ experiences and perceptions, and then move in to a discussion of the truck and the varied experiences therein of truck drivers — ultimately redefining home. Next, through an examination of my subjects’ interactions with the space of the truck stop I build an illustration of the truck stop as a waiting space and emphasize the social impact such a space has or could have on the lived experience of truck drivers. I conclude with a discussion of the significance of this work as an anthropological examination of spaces, while highlighting the opportunity for further exploration as applied work.


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home, labor, mobility, space and place