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Title: Bicycle racing and recreation : sport, technology and modernity, 1867-1903
Author: Ritchie, Andrew
Awarding Body: University of Strathclyde
Current Institution: University of Strathclyde
Date of Award: 2009
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The thesis explores the early history of bicycle racing and the related activity of recreational cycling, in particular the evolving symbiotic relationships, material and discursive, between participants and the makers of the sport's specialized tool- the bicycle itself. The dissertation presents an historical, social-constructionist account of the emergence of cycling as both a sport and a recreation between 1867 and 1903, focusing on Britain, but with comparative reference to France and the United States. During its early evolution, the changing design of the bicycle was influenced by considerations of sport and speed, as well as those of comfort, practicality and utility. The thesis assesses the relative causal weight of these social and technical factors on evolving design, in the light of the contemporary debates as to how the bicycle could best harness the capacities of the human body to achieve efficiency, speed, endurance and comfort. Cycling is seen as having had three differing, but closely related, social modes - racing, recreation and utility - each of which made distinct demands and had different impacts on the development of the machine itself. The thesis employs the methods of social and cultural history, combined with a theoretical framework that treats the bicycle as a technological artifact within a social constructionist approach to the understanding of human artifacts. The dissertation explores the social and institutional organization of cycling and the wider cultural, economic and technological contexts of the sport. Within a broadly chronological frame,it tackles issues of class, nationality, amateurism and professionalism, industry and commerce, the press, human-powered speed, and the physical capacities of the body, and relates them to the cultural transformation called modernity. The 19th century 'cycling industrial complex' presents a well-developed, early historical example of a modem sport used to market products to consumers. Designers, manufacturers, advertising and marketing personnel and the cycling press were engaged in a new style of commercial activity dedicated to 'the art and pastime' of cycling. 1 Outside the industry, the thousands of consumers of bicycles - racers, recreational riders, andutility riders - were themselves agents in the technological development and social history of bicycle racing and recreation.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral