Development and Urbanization
In 1986, with the introduction of the reform program known as doi moi ("renovation"), Vietnam started a gradual shift towards a socialist-oriented market economy. Among the newly accessible consumer goods, the motorbike rapidly became the symbol of this economic and social transition. Not only did this new means of transport radically change the urban landscape and the way people and goods moved across its space, but it also deeply affected social relations. Motorbikes, still nowadays more numerous than cars, embody the freedom associated with a constantly expanding market and the aspiration of young people for greater independence from interference from their family, society and the state. This paper will focus on the way young people in Ho Chi Minh City use motorbikes to create intimacy in a urban context that is witnessing a massive reduction of private space. More specifically, I will use the concept of "mobility" to analyze how the practical possibilities offered by motorbikes redefine the boundary between public and private space, actively contributing to the birth of a urban middle-class and nurturing a culture of pleasure especially, although not exclusively, among young city dwellers.