Driving the city: Taxi drivers and the tactics of everyday life in Beijing

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This article examines the ways in which taxi driving and China’s quest for global ascendency are interlinked and enmeshed. Inspired by de Certeau’s The Practice of Everyday Life and his conceptual formulation of “strategy” and “tactic”, this article explores how taxi drivers, through their everyday practice of driving, found ways and moments to tactically challenge and appropriate so-called “civility campaigns” and a rising China. By demonstrating the numerous instances of tactics taxi drivers used, I argue that their socio-economic marginality did not, in fact, reduce them to a “powerless” position. I bring in Foucault’s analytics of power and governmentality to add to de Certeau’s work by helping to explain the intertwined relationship between government and governed to shed light on the complexity implicated in the dynamics of power relations and resistance. I examine the period around the 2008 Beijing Olympics as it involved large-scale attempts to showcase China through (urban) transformation.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)175-205
Number of pages31
JournalJournal of Current Chinese Affairs
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2014

Scopus Subject Areas

  • Arts and Humanities(all)
  • General
  • Social Sciences(all)
  • Economics, Econometrics and Finance(all)
  • Cultural Studies

User-Defined Keywords

  • China
  • taxi drivers
  • strategies
  • tactics
  • civility campaigns
  • power relations
  • 2008 Beijing Olympics


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