Enthusiasm, Community and Cars:
: Geographies of the Modified VW Culture

  • William Andrews

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Philosophy


This thesis explores the ways in which participation in the modified VW community can be understood as enthusiasm, as defined in recent human geography. The research focuses on the relations between the community and individual scale, the emotional experiences of enthusiasm and the roles played by spaces of enthusiasm. The empirical data which led this research inquiry was gathered using a mix-methods approach contextualised by autoethnographic fieldwork during 2014-15. The research finds particular importance in the collective community network of enthusiastic individuals; their social interactions and the role of these in exchanging knowledge, norms and social capital. The co-present interactions which afford the exchange of such knowledges take place in spaces across the culture. These spaces and the consequent norms therein unveil the behaviours and etiquettes of enthusiasts as evidenced in their experiences, performances and practices. This research shows that for enthusiasts the modified car can be understood as a socio-technical project; with connections shown between participating in enthusiast labour and strengthening community cohesion. In terms of automobility research; driving is found to be both an embodied experience and a performed display. This display is key to the transmission of norms and spatial inscription of certain spaces and motorscapes which enthusiast cars pass through. The implications of research findings make an original contribution to knowledge within the recent geographies of enthusiasm corpus by illustrating the importance of approaching enthusiast communities with a sensitivity to the collective scale community as influencing individual behaviours, practices and experiences. The main conceptual contribution of this research is the recommendation of a critical use of social capital theory alongside emotional geography to open up new avenues of research when working with communities within the geographies of enthusiasm.
Date of Award2017
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • Aberystwyth University
SupervisorJesse Heley (Supervisor) & Peter Merriman (Supervisor)

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