WHO THEY ARE
The figure of the hobo first appeared at the beginning of the Second Industrial Revolution in the USA, towards the end of the nineteenth century, when the development of communications networks and railways, accompanied by big changes of in the means of production, forced many workers to plecework, some refusing to participate at all in this “imposed servitude”.
This loosening of the established employment structures meant that many people no longer ‘belonged’, not only in the work-related sense of the word, but also in a broader societal way, since their increased mobility and less rigidly-defined position in the sphere of employment was often supplemented by a failure to adapt to traditional family norms.
WHAT THEY DID
Hobos ”rode the rails” not only in search of employment opportunities, but also (at least initially) in response to a vaguer instinct for adventure and freedom. Prof. Anderson, an anthropologist at the University of Chicago and expert in this area says that “The true hobo was a task-worker who was ready to go anywhere to get a job, and equally ready to leave the job he was currently at. His provisory role was connected to the two frontiers”.
THEIR COMMUNICATION TOOL
Hobos communicated with each other by means of a visual/graphic code that they drew everywhere they go during their stops, so as to provide other hobos with information and their own particular thoughts on the place in question. They therefore succeeded in providing a fairly accurate description that was intended to make the trip of their fellow-hobos that bit easier.