Surfing Life
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Surfing Life : Surface, Substructure and the Commodification of the Sublime

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Description

Surfing Life is a study of surfing and social change that also provides insights into other experience-based contemporary subcultures and the nature of the self and social formations in contemporary society. Making use of extensive empirical material to support innovative theoretical approaches to social change, this book offers an analysis of the relationship between embodied experience, culture and the economy. With its ground breaking theoretical contributions, and its foundation in an ethnographic study of surfing culture in locations across Australia, this volume will appeal not only to those interested in the social and cultural phenomenon of surfing, but also to anyone interested in the sociology of sport and leisure, the sociology of culture and consumption, risk-taking, subcultures and theories of contemporary social change.
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Product details

  • Hardback | 300 pages
  • 159 x 235 x 17.53mm | 716g
  • Ashgate Publishing Limited
  • United Kingdom
  • English
  • 0754674436
  • 9780754674436
  • 1,137,802

Table of contents

Contents: This study of surfing; Pleasure and discipline: a surfing history; Resistance and incorporation: contemporary surfing life; Risk, self and social configurations; Fear, desire and a postmodern sublime; Commodification, reflexivity and trust: the surfing culture industry; Aestheticization and sportization: towards synthesis; Conclusions; Appendices; References; Index.
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Review quote

'An exhilarating contribution to the sociology of leisure and sport. Stranger writes with real verve and insight. A marvellous book.' Chris Rojek, Brunel University, UK 'Searching for the essence of the surfing experience and the nature of surfing culture, Surfing Life digs extraordinarily deep into social theory, philosophy and history. A thoughtful, sensitive, insightful and fruitful search, Surfing Life also exposes the corporate greed and professional sporting bureaucracies that threaten the joy of surfing.' Douglas Booth, University of Otago, New Zealand 'An important, unique and timely contribution to the growing academic as well as popular interest in surfing as a socio-cultural form and how it articulates with contemporary social change. Stranger not only lays bare the surfing culture, its industry and the relationship between them, but uses it as a fascinating exemplar of postmodern cultural processes, challenging theoretical orthodoxies about such contemporary social formations.' Belinda Wheaton, University of Brighton, UK 'Successfully subjecting his life as a surfer to insightful sociological analysis Mark Stranger has gone where few other analysts of sport cultures have ventured. His insights into risk taking, characterisation of the tribal social formations of surfers and analysis of the major players in the surfing industry and their conflicted relationship with the culture, provide an important model for future analyses of sporting cultures.' Peter Donnelly, University of Toronto, Canada 'Surfing Life is a serious academic book based on sound ethnographic research and appropriate theoretical analysis. It's a bonus that it allows the reader a vicarious connection with world famous surfers who are quoted from interviews... In Surfing Life, Stranger takes us to conceptual places that allow us to understand the complexity of the surfing subculture in the context of its maturation and commodification. Surfing is still a leisure pursuit of immense pleasure to millions of people, men and women, and the paradox in this book is partly the conflict between wanting to understand the 'simple' life of surfing, the waves and the ocean, and having to accept the complex theoretical lenses that are required to reach this understanding... The book is worth reading by anyone interested in surfing, subcultures and social change.' Annals of Leisure Research 'The book is a very thoughtful and readable text in its insider style, clear organisation and insightful writing... It takes account of some of the major public and social influences that make surfing what it is today, drawing on a significant literature base. Mark Stranger captures elements of a surfing life that he frames as surface, substructure and the commodification of the sublime and provides a good example of the bringing together of a passionate long-term project starting with a thesis and finishing in a polished book. It is a good example of how ethnography can be done, in particular, in relation to sport and leisure and as such is a useful read for early entry ethnographers or those delving into socio-cultural theory associated with physical cultures. For those well read in either mainstream sports or other 'extreme' or 'lifestyle' sports via sociology or cultural studies, it is a useful text against which to make a comparison.' Sport, Education and Society 'From a team captain's (not so muttered) comments about the 'old farts' in control of the game to erudite philosophical discussions about the 'owners' of sport to a seeming presumption among academics that scholars of sport have 'a sport', practice communities are never far from the surface of our subject. Rarely have they been so well explored, discussed and conceived as in Mark Stranger's impressive analysis of one of the most romanticized of sports, surfing. ... Stranger's 'unorthodox ethnography' (his term) is conceptually rich and sophisticated ... This book is a rich interweaving of cultural, philosophical, historical and social analysis of a sports practice community, while highlighting the links between the corporeal basis of any sports community and the commercial forces that challenge the pleasures and joys of community practice. It is an exploration we need to pay attention to and one that suggests rich and exciting new ways to think about the groups we study, what they do and how and why they do it.' Sport in History
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About Mark Stranger

Mark Stranger has taught Sociology at the University of Tasmania, Australia.
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