Document Type

Article

Media Type

Text

Abstract

Out of more than two thousand bike messengers in New York City, a few hundred participate in alleycats—illegal races held in open traffic. Surrounding this racing scene is a vibrant messenger community. Messengers who race in or attend alleycats carry their messenger identity into all aspects of their lives. Through direct participant observation, this article proposes that alleycats function as Durkheimian rituals for these messengers. Alleycats express the central values of the social world. Lost in collective effervescence, the individual confronts these values as objectified truths, which allow messengers to form stable identities. Further, bicycles, messenger bags, and other objects become sacred symbols within this ritualization process. The ability of messengers to construct such nonreflexive identities is juxtaposed with theories about the self in postmodernity.

DOI

10.1525/si.2006.29.3.349

Publication Date

1-1-2006

Department

Department of Sociology

ISSN

0195-6086

Language

eng

Publisher

Society for the Study of Symbolic Interaction

Share

COinS
 
 

To view the content in your browser, please download Adobe Reader or, alternately,
you may Download the file to your hard drive.

NOTE: The latest versions of Adobe Reader do not support viewing PDF files within Firefox on Mac OS and if you are using a modern (Intel) Mac, there is no official plugin for viewing PDF files within the browser window.