Pedal to the Metal: The Work Life of Truckers

Lawrence J. Ouellet, Author, Lawrence J. Cuellet, Author
Lawrence J. Ouellet, Author, Lawrence J. Cuellet, Author Temple University Press $72.5 (247p) ISBN 978-1-56639-175-7
Paperback - 247 pages - 978-1-56639-176-4
Ebook - 270 pages - 978-1-4399-0606-4
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Before becoming a sociologist (he teaches at the University of Illinois at Chicago), Ouellet was a truck driver. ``When I was a youngster, trucking captured my imagination.'' As a full- and part-time truck driver over 13 years, he continued to find driving a source of great satisfaction. For this study of drivers' experiences and work ethic, he was a participant-observer, limiting his research to stints as a short-haul driver at small, nonunion California-based companies between August 1981 and October 1982. Two questions formed the basis for his inquiry: Why do truck drivers work hard, even when their efforts do not result in any material gain; and how do truckers make sense of their behavior to themselves and the outside world? He begins with a brief overview of the trucking industry and then details the responses of drivers to their work, with fascinating insights into their motivations--including the machismo drivers feel when they barrel down an interstate at 80 miles an hour. He explores the inevitable conflicts between drivers and owners over job performance, and describes how truck drivers see themselves--the king of the road, the cowboy, the voyeur--and how these fantasies affect their relations with customers, motorists and other truckers. Ouellet's skillful weaving of anecdote and research make his ethnography of trucking culture both readable and informative. Photos not seen by PW. (Aug.)
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