car culture · chicksncars

Identified by Cars and Online Communities

In older times members of any car culture were identified by the car they owned. In modern times, it is the car they own and the online community they have chosen to participate in. For example, my boyfriend – owns the 2016 Subaru STI – but also identifies with the “Subieflow” online community. (I mean he even wears the subieflow bracelet everyday – talk about committed).

(sorry it is so graphic)

Catarina Sales Oliveira discusses the relationship between a car and an identity in her work “(Auto)Mobilities and Social Identities in Portugal.” I’d like to point out that though this is a research study and assessment based in another country, the values shared between a car and its owner transcend location.

After the location and the home “the car is the main commodity that provides individual status” (Sheller, 2004 quoted in Sales Oliveira 140).

Why such a direct emphasis on status?

In my last post, I discussed that the car links to class because it shows exactly how much you spent and are willing to spend on your baby or girlfriend (like the man in above gif, lol). Because of this obvious statement, this clearly identifies you among a specific social class. The car you own determines not only where you’re going but where you come from.

The car is associated with many symbols:

  • freedom
  • security
  • professional success
  • masculinity and strength
  • desire

(Sales Oliveira 140)

Security…. you are securing apart of yourself. You are securing your spot in the culture. You are securing your identity. And because the culture is male-dominated you are securing that which makes you a man. You are also secure in the sense that you know you are surrounded by people who share the same exact values with you. And now this once only face to face security is now available online.

In Rebecca W. Black’s “Online Fan Fiction, Global Identities, and Imagination“, Black discusses that advancements in technology have allowed individuals to connect on a larger scale and share ideas freely about the discourse community they are engulfed in.

Now members of a car culture, such as the Subaru community, could freely communicate in a “relaxed environment” (Black 401). Members were now able to identify themselves not just by the car they owned but also by “represent[ing] themselves as experts, novices, language learners… and fans ” (Black 408). See, like me. I clearly identified myself as not an owner – a passenger – and as a language learner and a fan. Knowing your place in the culture is crucial in being able to communicate your ideas clearly.


Using specific language self-identifies and “aligns oneself within [a] particular discourse” (Black 408). That is why when examining comments online shared between members of the Subaru community I am able to identify those who have been around for a long time, those who are entry level and those like me who are struggling to build a connection within the community.

Works Cited

Black, Rebecca W. “Online Fan Fiction, Global Identities, and Imagination.” Research in the Teaching of English, vol. 43, no. 4, 2009, pp. 401–408.

Sales Oliveira, Catarina.”(Auto)Mobilities and Social Identities in Portugal.” Sociologia, no. 77, 2015.doi:



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