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Risk-taking & postmodernity : commodification & the ecstatic in leisure lifestyles : the case of surfing

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Stranger, MJA (2001) Risk-taking & postmodernity : commodification & the ecstatic in leisure lifestyles : the case of surfing. PhD thesis, University of Tasmania.

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Abstract

The thesis is a study of surfing in Australia. It examines the surfing
subculture and its relationship with the dominant culture; the risk-taking
orientation of its bodily practices and the role they play in the construction
of individual and group identity and social formations; and the multidimensional
relationships between the surfing culture industry, surfing's
sports bureaucracy, bodily practices, social configurations and subcultural
integrity. The study is based on the hypothesis that the surfing subculture
in Australia is a distinctly postmodern configuration but one which
displays a level of stability not accounted for in postmodern theory. It
informs current debates over the nature of the self and society in
post-modernity.
The scope of the research was national because previous studies of
surfing, both in Australia and the USA, suffered from too narrow a scope;
either focusing on one sector or geographic area. The breadth of this
study enabled coverage of all sectors, geographic types, and forms of
surfing subculture in Australia. Participant observation was undertaken
during a ten month field trip to 15 surfing locations, covering all States
and surfing location types. The observations were supplemented by
recorded interviews with 31 key people, 129 questionnaires administered
at 16 specific surfing sites, and an analysis of the surfing media and other
documentation.
The thesis concludes that post-modernity provides an environment in
which the self can become anchored in the shared transcendent experience
of bodily practice, which forms the basis of stable social formations.
Through interaction with the sublime in nature, the self 'experiences itself'
in communion with the world. This transcendence is both a loss of self
and an expanded sense of self, whereby subject and object merge in
ecstatic experience. The shared knowledge of ecstatic experience
constitutes a conscience collectif which underpins the subculture's social
formations at the local and global level. The surfing culture industry
mediates the experience across the world in images, text and symbolic
form. Local neo-tribal formations reinforce the ecstatic experience
through their hyper commodified culture and their sociality. Their
structure promotes the hyper individualistic pursuit of ecstatic experience
and constitutes a self-perpetuating social configuration whereby these
reflexive communities are constantly reconstructed through bodily
practice. This aesthetic reflexivity provides a bulwark against alienating
bureaucratization and fosters a form of competitive surfing which further
reinforces the foundational experience.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Keywords: Surfing, Subculture, Surfers
Copyright Holders: The Author
Copyright Information:

Copyright 2001 the author - The University is continuing to endeavour to trace the copyright owner(s) and in the meantime this item has been reproduced here in good faith. We would be pleased to hear from the copyright owner(s).

Additional Information:

Thesis (Ph.D.)--University of Tasmania, 2001. Includes bibliographical references

Date Deposited: 04 Feb 2015 23:28
Last Modified: 23 Aug 2016 22:40
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