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The Ideological Function of Cars

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Essay title: The Ideological Function of Cars

The Ideological Function of Cars

A car is a personal tool for transportation that can be used whenever and for whatever reasons. Its role in everyday life varies across public and private spheres of society and carries with it various ideological assumptions. A car is understood to serve the basic universal purpose of travel in the modern world; however, it's insertion, absorption, and appropriation into the ideological realm of society transforms cars into extensions of people's relational identities. The function of a car at its historical conception was a response to peoples' need to travel faster and easier. While it may seem neutral and unbiased, a car, as an alternative to other modes of transportation, carries immediate allusions to class in society. Its purpose goes beyond simply transportation. Its ideological function as a mythologized object creates forms of inclusion and exclusion accepted as true and natural to modern society. The details of the type of car or its use are part of the intersectionality of class, race, and gender. Cars can be a form of affiliation or individuation but they ultimately create and reinforce the cycle of society; what Louis Althusser refers as the reproduction of the conditions of production.

In U.S. society a vehicle is practically a standard of everyday life. Its use is accepted almost as necessity for the continuation of normal operations of work and leisure. The reality of cars' historical creation has been lost through its subjection to the dialectical social relationships of modern America. At the simplest level a cars function is to move from point A to point B. However the variety of the types of cars and the uses of cars complicate this notion. Once a person gets behind the wheel they automatically transform from passenger to driver. When one purchases a car they become an owner leading to extensive other implications of identity. By mystifying its reality, a car's ideological function serves as symbols of individuals' personality, ability, marginality, and so on.

The foremost distinction that a car represents is class. A vehicle is predominantly understood as part of the working middle class necessity in U.S. society. To be able to afford a car is a major exclusionary factor that differentiates between those who have and those who have-not. Cars generally appeal to people part of the work force because they must travel to and from their jobs, making at least moderate income to support the costs of owning or driving a vehicle. Almost adopted as a necessity, having a car is still a luxury for a large portion of American society. It is a large divide between those who drive and reap the benefits of traveling further, making more money, experiencing more than someone limited to walking or public transportation. Having a car is also associated with the concept of freedom and attainment. The capability to travel further both liberates and elevates status. The type of car one drives is also a signifier of ones social status. The road is a public space where peoples' class and characteristics are juxtaposed to one another distinguishing their societal roles. A luxury car is an automatic signifier of the driver's status because the subconscious

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