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Aspects of the automobile’s diffusion in the North-West of England 1896-1939

Butt, Joshua Richard (2018) Aspects of the automobile’s diffusion in the North-West of England 1896-1939. Doctoral thesis (PhD), Manchester Metropolitan University.

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Abstract

This thesis explores aspects of the development of automobilism in the North-West from its beginnings around 1896 to 1939. An investigation of regional source material is used to engage with national and international research on the automobile, and more broadly, science and technology studies and the interaction between technology and society. In doing so, this investigation shows the complexities surrounding the diffusion and technological development of the automobile, focusing on the interactions between users, non-users, designers and dealers. Split into three main chapters, this thesis starts by exploring motoring culture in the North-West, arguing the importance of cultural and social factors in the automobile’s diffusion. It then exposes the important role played by commercial prospects and the “imaginaries” surrounding the commercial vehicle in the development of automobilism. Finally, it argues the importance of considering the role of both the small firm and the agent and dealer in the development of automobile technology and automobilism in general. Overall this thesis can be used as a case study for the way in which sociotechnological systems develop, in this case described as “automobilism”. It also shows how regional experiences both in design, use, promotion and resistance shape these systems.

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