Jackson Publishes Article on Traffic

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Prof. Jeffrey H. Jackson has published an article “Solidarism in the City Streets:  La société protectrice contre les excès de l’automobilisme and the Problem of Traffic in Early Twentieth Century Paris,” in the latest issue of French Cultural Studies (August 2009).  The article examines the political and cultural conflict that arose when cars started to become more numerous in Parisian streets in the early 1900s. 

Jackson focuses on the response by one group of lawyers who tried to formulate legislation to restrict the behavior of people behind the wheel.  In particular these activists concentrated not on “chauffeurs” (or ordinary drivers) but rather “chauffards” (a derogatory term for reckless drivers).  Jackson argues that the lawyers in the “Protection Society Against the Excesses of Automobilism” applied the principles of the French political theory of Solidarism (a belief in a collective social responsibility) to balance the individual rights of car owners and those who were posing a brand new threat to the public safety within the city.

This research emerges from Jackson’s larger interest in the history of Paris and, more generally, transformations in the space of the modern city in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.