Checks and balances: the semiotics of ticketing on Victorian railways, during the 1930s and 1940s

Colin Symes*

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    1 Citation (Scopus)

    Abstract

    As well as transforming the way terrestrial space was traversed, railways spearheaded texts that enabled passenger traversal of such spaces to be regulated and monitored. Among the most important of these texts was the railway ticket, which as a pre-electronic information storage device, was capable of encoding through semiotic inscription, details of a passenger’s spatial entitlements, both on and off a train. Yet curiously these facets of the ticket have not hitherto been the subjects of analysis. Through analysing the railway ticketing system of Australia’s Victorian Railways during the 1930s and 1940s and the manuals that regulated the choreography of ticket inspection and the associated performances of passengers, this article redresses this oversight. Using Foucaultian and semiotic concepts, it argues that the railways tickets of the past, like their contemporary counterparts, provide convenient and portable mechanisms for gate-keeping and calibrating mobile populations.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)469-481
    Number of pages13
    JournalSpace and Culture
    Volume21
    Issue number4
    DOIs
    Publication statusPublished - Nov 2018

    Keywords

    • railway tickets
    • surveillance
    • travel semiotics
    • spatial-temporal frameworks
    • travel performances

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