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What Would Jesus Haul?: Home, Work, and the Politics of Masculinity among Christian Long-Haul Truck Drivers

Work and Family in the New Economy

ISBN: 978-1-78441-630-0, eISBN: 978-1-78441-629-4

ISSN: 0277-2833

Publication date: 17 February 2015

Abstract

Purpose

This chapter explores how long-distance truckers in the contemporary United States navigate work and family obligations. It examines how Christianity and constructions of masculinity are significant in the lives of these long-haul drivers and how truckers work to construct narratives of their lives as “good, moral” individuals in contrast to competing cultural narratives which suggest images of romantic, rule-free, renegade lives on the open road.

Methodology/approach

This study is based upon ethnographic fieldwork, interviews, observations of long-haul truckers, and participation in a trucking school for eight months in 2005–2006 and an additional four months in 2007–2008. Using feminist grounded theory, I highlight how Christian trucking provides avenues through which balance is struck between work and family and between masculinity and other identities.

Findings

Christian truckers draw upon older ideas about responsible, breadwinning fatherhood in their discourse about being good “fathers” while on the road. This discourse is in some conflict with the lived experiences of Christian truckers who simultaneously find themselves confronted by cultural narratives and expectations of what it means to be a good “worker” or a good “trucker.”

As these men navigate both work and social locations, gender expectations are challenged and strategies to ameliorate the work/family balance are essential.

Originality/value of chapter

The chapter contributes to discourse on gender studies as well as to the reshaping of ideology and practices of work and family in contemporary American culture.

Keywords

Citation

Upton, R.L. (2015), "What Would Jesus Haul?: Home, Work, and the Politics of Masculinity among Christian Long-Haul Truck Drivers", Work and Family in the New Economy (Research in the Sociology of Work, Vol. 26), Emerald Group Publishing Limited, Bingley, pp. 101-126. https://doi.org/10.1108/S0277-283320150000026004

Publisher

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Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2015 Emerald Group Publishing Limited