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Title: 'We have the fjells, but you have character ...' : a comparative study of personal and social development (PSD) within the discourses of outdoor education in Great Britain and Friluftsliv in Norway
Author: Westphal, Ralf
Awarding Body: University of Edinburgh
Current Institution: University of Edinburgh
Date of Award: 2011
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Great Britain and Norway have a long tradition of being role models for outdoor education in Europe. In Victorian times Great Britain witnessed a growth in public schools often referred to as 'character factories' whose aim was to foster personality and team-spirit via outdoor experiences. Conversely in Norway outdoor education (Friluftsliv) was rooted in a nature consonant theme that was further influenced by the 1970s deep ecology movement. These two countries offer contrasting insights into how their specific culture affects attitudes toward wilderness and its exploration plus the relation of 'self and its relationship to 'others' associated with personal and social growth (PSD). This comparative study traces the transitional nature of PSD-related issues in outdoor education (OE) and Friluftsliv particularly those embedded in each nation's historical antecedents. The study also explores each country's current external influences, such as ideological forces, market-forces and political parameters. Finally, the study attempts to reconcile the past with the present. Scrutiny of the relationship between traditional and contemporary factors and its concomitant impact upon the sector is pivotal to the research interest. Thus the investigation considers future influences on personal and social development through the use of the outdoors, and juxtaposes findings from the two countries. By drawing on comparative education methodologies, the study draws together two approaches. The first is a philosophical inquiry into the antecedents of outdoor education and Friluftsliv from a PSD perspective, while the second comprises a set of qualitative semi-structured interviews involving two sets of informants - one from Great Britain and the other from Norway. The sample was selected by 'reputational' case selection which resulted in a cohort consisting of four key informants at university level from each country. The cross-national study shows that the antecedents of each nation's outdoor movement is multi-facetted and culturally embedded as a specific phenomenon borne of their unique political, social and historical background. In Great Britain an explicit PSD tradition has evolved while in Norway it is implicit. The findings show that the 'city-bound' philosophy of the British approach to outdoor education, contrasts strongly with Norway's 'classical' Friluftsliv tradition, which reflects its natureconsonant theme. The concept of PSD seems to depend on ethnocentric constructions of self, disparate ontological paradigms regarding pedagogy and diverse mythological rationales in the antecedents of each nation's narrative.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available