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Title: Adventure sport, media and social/cultural change
Author: Puchan, Heike
Awarding Body: University of Stirling
Current Institution: University of Stirling
Date of Award: 2013
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The turn of the millennium has heralded an explosion in the popularity of adventure sports often also referred to as alternative lifestyle sports or extreme sports. These are offering both new avenues and potential challenges to the traditional ways of conceptualising and practicing sport. This thesis analyses the development of adventure sports, in particular climbing and kayaking, as a subculture. It delivers a socio-economic history of climbing, analyses the role of the media in its development, its participation and its lived experience. Further it investigates the impact of globalisation, commercialisation and consumerism on adventure sports, and considers to what extent they are being brought into the mainstream as a result. The economic impact of participation in adventure sports is reviewed along with a study of how the make up of its participants has changed as the activities have become more accessible. Particular focus is placed on the analysis of the gender order, specifically looking at the experiences of women in adventure sports. For this purpose the sports culture found in climbing and kayaking is examined and the implications for the reconstruction of gender relations are considered. This study employs an ethnographic approach including both semi-structured and structured interviews with both adventure sports experts and participants, document and media analysis, participant observation and the more recent nethnography approach. One of the significant contributions of this thesis has been to provide a comprehensive review and analysis of the social, cultural and media environment of arguably one of the most popular lifestyle sports in the UK. It has also shown the strong interrelationship that exists between the media and adventure sports, and has demonstrated how the increased commercialisation and commodification of the activity has resulted in economic development particularly in some remoter parts of the UK through the packaging and provision of the climbing experience. At the same time some participants see this is ‘selling out’. This research has demonstrated how women’s participation in adventure sports has been subject to marginalisation, sexualisation and trivialisation similar to other mainstream sports. However, this work has also highlighted that there is room for optimism as new discourses of femininity contrary to the traditional male hegemony are emerging. Further research opportunities have been identified concerning issues of ethnicity and participation; the social, cultural and economic relationships between adventure sportspeople and rural communities. Emerging feminist discourses also warrant further investigation.
Supervisor: Haynes, Richard Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Adventure sport ; mountaineering ; Extreme sports ; Kayaking ; Moutaineering ; Women mountaineers ; Women athletes ; Mas media and sports ; Mass media Social aspects