Through ethnographic contact with the working lives of male autorickshaw drivers in contemporary Kolkata, India, this article unravels the gendered politics of co-presence in shared movement systems in the city. In doing so, it makes a feminist intervention in the literature on urban infrastructures by revealing precisely how ideas of masculinity operate as an invisible structuring principle of everyday mobility. The discussion foregrounds conflict, cooperation and disappointment as the key experiential axes along which male transport workers inhabit infrastructural space in the city. It argues that urban infrastructures are experienced by working-class men as a reminder of their struggle to accomplish the norm of respectable breadwinner masculinity, even as they function as a terrain which allows other expressions of masculinity – such as risk-taking, mastery over space, camaraderie – to be enacted and affirmed. Using a micro-sociological approach to understanding interactions in the spaces of commuting, this article brings into view the interface between cultures of masculinity and the social life of transport infrastructures through which gendered spatial inequalities are lived in the city.

Additional Metadata
Keywords feminism, infrastructure, masculinity, mobility, public transport
Persistent URL dx.doi.org/10.1177/0042098019875420, hdl.handle.net/1765/130455
Journal Urban Studies: an international journal for research in urban studies
Citation
Chowdhury, R. (2019). The social life of transport infrastructures: Masculinities and everyday mobilities in Kolkata. Urban Studies: an international journal for research in urban studies. doi:10.1177/0042098019875420