Hitchhiking in an age of suspicion: work techniques and personal experience narratives of hitchhiking in Newfoundland and Cape Breton

McGuire, Andrea (2017) Hitchhiking in an age of suspicion: work techniques and personal experience narratives of hitchhiking in Newfoundland and Cape Breton. Masters thesis, Memorial University of Newfoundland.

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Abstract

In recent decades, the popularity of hitchhiking in North America has undoubtedly declined. Nonetheless, the tradition persists—albeit residually—as people continue to hitchhike in both community based (short-distance) and long-distance contexts. This thesis draws on interviews with hitchhikers based in Newfoundland and Cape Breton, who have hitchhiked and picked up hitchhikers from the 1960s to the present day. Hitchhiking strategy is considered through the framework of occupational folklore, and the use of such strategies for fostering trust is discussed. This thesis also examines hitchhiking personal experience narratives from a folkloristic standpoint, questioning why these narratives are often assessed as “good” (i.e., engaging) narratives, while analyzing how hitchhiking personal experience narratives might convey values and ideas about trust. Although a range of trusting attitudes is documented, the interviewed hitchhikers are generally positive about their experiences; many connect hitchhiking with a deepening sense of empathy, and exhibit counter-hegemonic attitudes towards reigning “cultures of fear.” While considering the influence of gender, location, and historical context, this work aims to demonstrate the connection between hitchhiking folklore and trust, on both an individual and societal level. By examining hitchhiking as a narrative resource, rite of passage, and source of empathy, this thesis also shows how hitchhikers may derive meaning from and situate their experiences in the greater context of their lives.

Item Type: Thesis (Masters)
URI: http://research.library.mun.ca/id/eprint/12877
Item ID: 12877
Additional Information: Includes bibliographical references (pages 194-203).
Keywords: hitchhiking, personal experience narratives, occupational folklore, trust, culture of fear
Department(s): Humanities and Social Sciences, Faculty of > Folklore
Date: June 2017
Date Type: Submission
Library of Congress Subject Heading: Hitchhiking -- Newfoundland and Labrador; Hitchhiking -- Nova Scotia -- Cape Breton Island; Hitchhiking -- Folklore

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