Masculinities & Everyday Morality on Public Transport

How do we speak of gendered subjectivities in the shared spaces of urban mobility? This presentation follows the labour geographies of autorickshaw and taxi operators in the eastern Indian city of Kolkata to argue that at the intersections of everyday morality and the mores of urban commuting, a cast of gendered urban characters become identifiable. Such moral characterization, as a folk knowledge system about moving through the city in the company of strangers, becomes a measure of both urban survival strategies and gendered social inequality. Mundane moral judgements enable transport workers and passengers to survive the protean nature of the mobile city and capture the entanglements between the private domains of family and intimacy and the public worlds of labour and commuting. The sociology of public transport offered in this presentation shows how interactions in the course of urban commuting become the locus of moral attention and how such everyday morality sustains the ideological associations between masculinity and mobility in cities.