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Born to Be WildThe Rise of the American Motorcyclist$
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Randy D. McBee

Print publication date: 2015

Print ISBN-13: 9781469622729

Published to North Carolina Scholarship Online: January 2016

DOI: 10.5149/northcarolina/9781469622729.001.0001

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No Worthwhile Citizen Ever Climbed Aboard a Motorcycle and Gunned the Engine

No Worthwhile Citizen Ever Climbed Aboard a Motorcycle and Gunned the Engine

The Rise of the Biker, 1940s–1970s

(p.17) 1 No Worthwhile Citizen Ever Climbed Aboard a Motorcycle and Gunned the Engine
Born to Be Wild

Randy D. McBee

University of North Carolina Press

This chapter explores the outlaw's origins in the late 1940s and identifies the conflict surrounding him and the manner in which he challenged ideas about community, social belonging, and even citizenship. It also examines the manner in which violence had become associated with motorcyclists—a development that began with the rise of a signature look of rebellion during those hopeful days of economic expansion after the war and ended with a motorcyclist who defied all basic assumptions about common decency amid economic and political turmoil at home and abroad. The public's tendency to link motorcyclists to violence was so complete by the late 1960s and early 1970s that the motorcyclist's working-class origins were overshadowed by his antisocial behavior; a “biker type” began to shape the public's image of what crime looked like, and politicians across the country began looking for ways to regulate motorcycling and motorcyclists.

Keywords:   community, social belonging, citizenship, motorcyclists, crime, 1960s, 1970s, violence, antisocial behavior, biker type

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