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Urban FlowBike Messengers and the City$
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Jeffrey L. Kidder

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9780801449925

Published to Cornell Scholarship Online: August 2016

DOI: 10.7591/cornell/9780801449925.001.0001

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The Lure of Delivery

(p.1) Introduction
Urban Flow

Jeffrey L. Kidder

Cornell University Press

This book examines why and how there is a lure in delivering packages by studying the bike messengers' subculture. More specifically, it considers why bike messengers find meaning in a seemingly menial occupation. Drawing on active participation, informal discussions, and formal interviews supplemented with historical and contemporary documentation, the book explains how a low-end service job such as messengering can generate authentic action and a strong sense of identity. It analyzes the messenger lifestyle through emotions and space and discusses what it calls the affective appropriation of space beyond which there is no messenger subculture. Using a practice-based semiotic analysis of messenger style, the book argues that the lure in delivering packages comes from emotions generated in practice, that the emotional involvement required in making deliveries is what makes urban cycling fun. It contends that there is a remarkable correlation between affective spatial appropriation and the style of bike couriers.

Keywords:   bike messengers, messengering, identity, messenger lifestyle, emotions, space, messenger subculture, messenger style, urban cycling, affective spatial appropriation

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