Hermes on Two Wheels: The Sociology of Bicycle Messengers

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University Press of America, Sep 28, 2009 - Social Science - 142 pages
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Hermes on Two Wheels shows the dynamic world of the bicycle messenger through a sociological lens, based on a five-year participant observation study. Beginning with the experiences of messengers themselves and moving to describe the structural settings of those experiences, the research shows how messengers work within a political-economic system that devalues semi-skilled labor and strips people of emotional fulfillment. The voluntary risk-taking of messengers becomes a means of achieving such emotional fulfillment as well as making a living, while their stylistic expressions pay dividends in cultural scrip rather than money. Through their work, messengers help to reproduce and maintain the structures of society while also constructing a vibrant, rebellious, politicized subculture that has come to represent the new urban hipster, an image continually under threat of co-optation.

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Hermes on Two Wheels
2 Why Does Hermes Fly?
3 Risk Edgework and the Community of Danger
Liminality Anarchy and BikePunk Culture
5 Bicycle Culture Messenger Solidarity and Community Matters
The Last Non Coopted Punk Rock Subculture
Methodological Appendix

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About the author (2009)

Kevin Wehr is associate professor in the Department of Sociology at the California State University, Sacramento, where he specializes in environmental sociology, political sociology, social theory, culture, and criminology. He received his Ph.D. in sociology in 2002 and his M.S. in 1998 from the University of Wisconsin, Madison. He completed his B.A. in 1994 at the University of California, Santa Cruz.

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