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02 May 2013

Bicycles, Motorcycles, Proles, and the Powerful

Last weekend, I got to attend an awesome crit bike race here where I live. (If you haven't already gathered from the blog, I'm a cycling fan.) I got there early and staked out a good spot to watch the races near the start/finish line. It happened to be right near a cordoned-off sponsor area for the motorcycles that cleared the way on every lap for the cyclists, Ducati. I was struck by the class diversity among the people associated with Ducati. Standing comfortably next to the working-class American rider/enthusiasts were elite European owner/managers. What otherwise we would think of as strange bedfellows seemed completely at ease in this setting. These kinds of situations, however, are quite rare. The only other examples that I can think of involve professional athletics or motorsports. Think Mitt Romney and his "friends who are NASCAR team owners" sans pandering inauthenticity. I wonder what it is about these social situations or realms that allow for otherwise avoidable inter-class contact. Is it their competitive nature? I also wonder if these moments for contact have appreciable effects, like elevated opinions of those in other classes, better treatment of employees by owners, increased levels of sympathy, or conversely, decreases in class consciousness. Surely, there is some research in the area. Point us to it in the comments below if you know of it.

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