Fast Knocks and Nags


In spite of, or due to, its centrality to everyday life the car is a much neglected aspect of contemporary material and symbolic culture. Its presence has until very recently manifested itself largely in epic national industrial histories or in overtly critical environmentalist accounts and social histories. The phenomenon of joyriding has received even less academic attention. This may be due to its problematic positioning in the liminal zones of many disciplines, in an epistemological vacuum.

This article foregrounds the cultural aspect of joyriding in a particular context. It questions the more obvious interpretative tendencies like “youth culture” or “subculture” as the result of an ageist or sedentary hierarchy articulated from within an exclusionary and normative discourse. It is argued that this is better understood as a variant of a more general protean cultural process through which the very sign of modernity and consumerism (with all its assumptions of alienation and assimilation) becomes part of a forceful vernacular or lived-in urban culture.

How to Cite

Cadhla, S. Ó., (2001) “Fast Knocks and Nags”, Ethnologia Europaea 31(2), 77-94. doi:

Publisher Notes

  • This article was previously published by Museum Tusculanum Press.


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Stiofán Ó Cadhla (National University of Ireland)



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