Culture, Identity and Intense Performativity: Being in the Zone, 1st Edition (Hardback) book cover

Culture, Identity and Intense Performativity

Being in the Zone, 1st Edition

Edited by Tim Jordan, Brigid McClure, Kath Woodward


182 pages | 3 B/W Illus.

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pub: 2017-01-19
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‘Being in the zone' means performing in a distinctive, unusual, pleasurable and highly competent way at something you already regularly do: dancing or playing a viola, computer programming, tennis and much more. What makes the zone special? This volume offers groundbreaking research that brings sociological and cultural studies to bear on the idea of being in the zone. There is original research on musicians, dancers and surfers which shows that being in the zone far from being exclusively individualised and private but must be understood as social and collective and possibly accessible to all. The zone is not just for elite performers.

Being in the zone is not just the province of the athlete who suddenly and seemingly without extra effort swims faster or jumps higher or the musician who suddenly plays more than perfectly, but also of the doctor working under intense pressure or the computer programmer staying up all night. The meaning of such experiences for convincing people to work in intense conditions, often with short term contracts, is explored to show how being in the zone can have problematic effects and have negative and constraining as well as creative and productive implications.

Often being in the zone is understood from a psychological viewpoint but this can limit our understanding. This volume provides the first in-depth analysis of being in the zone from social and cultural viewpoints drawing on a range of theories and novel evidence.

Written in a stimulating and accessible style, Culture, Identity and Intense Performativity: Being in the Zone will strongly appeal to students and researchers who aim to understand the experience of work, creativity, musicianship and sport. Issues of the body are also central to being in the zone and will make this book relevant to anyone studying  bodies and embodiment . This collection will establish being in the zone as an important area of enquiry for social science and the humanities.

Table of Contents

Part 1: The Social and Cultural Inside the Zone

  1. Introduction, (B McClure, Tim Jordan and Kath Woodward)
  2. Being in the Zone and Vital Subjectivity: On the Liminal Sources of Sport and Art, (Paul Stenner)
  3. Failure, Routine and the Ordinary in the Zone, (Tim Jordan)
  4. The Pleasures and Pains in the Sporting Zone: An Embodied Perspective, (Ian Wellard and Angela Pickard)
  5. Learning to Sing: Defamiliarizing the Zone, (Nick Wilson)
  6. Part Two: The Zone in the Social and Cultural

  7. In the Zone or in the Shit: (Extra)Ordinary Effects at Work, (Lynne Pettinger)
  8. Step into the Zone: Career Dancers, Cultural Work and Intensity, (Heidi Ashton and Mark Banks)
  9. Being in the Moment: Heightened Experiences and Transformative Relations in Social Salsa Dancing, (B McClure)
  10. Being in the Zone and the Emergence of Musical Instruments’ Aesthetics: Auto-Ethnographic Experiences in Viola Playing, (Pedro dos Santos Boia)
  11. Jazz Improvisation and Peak Performance: Playing in the Zone, (Garry Hagberg)
  12. Moving not Staying Still in Time to the Zone, (Kath Woodward)

About the Editors

Tim Jordan is Professor of Digital Cultures and Head of School of Media, Film and Music at Sussex University.

Brigid McClure is an associate researcher with the Department for Culture, Media & Creative Industries at King's College London, with a substantive post as Assistant Chief Operating Officer for the five Arts & Sciences faculties.

Kath Woodward is a Professor of Sociology at the Open University.

About the Series



Innovations in the Humanities, Social Sciences and Creative Arts

Series Editors: Anthony Elliott and Jennifer Rutherford

Hawke Research Institute, University of South Australia

This series addresses the importance of innovative contemporary, comparative and conceptual research on the cultural and institutional contradications of our times and our lives in these times. Antinomies publishes theoretically innovative work that critically examines the ways in which social, cultural, political and aesthetic change is rendered visible in the global age, and that is attentive to novel contradictions arising from global transformations. Books in the Series are from authors both well-established and early careers researchers. Authors will be recruited from many, diverse countries – but a particular feature of the Series will be its strong focus on research from Asia and Australasia. The Series addresses the diverse signatures of contemporary global contradictions, and as such seeks to promote novel transdisciplinary understandings in the humanities, social sciences and creative arts.

The Series Editors are especially interested in publishing books in the following areas that fit with the broad remit of the series:

  • New architectures of subjectivity
  • Cultural sociology
  • Reinvention of cities and urban transformations
  • Digital life and the post-human
  • Emerging forms of global creative practice
  • Culture and the aesthetic


Please contact the series editors with proposals for the series at:

Anthony Elliott and Jennifer Rutherford

Hawke Research Institute

University of South Australia

Underdale SA 5032

GPO Box 2471

Adelaide SA 5001


Learn more…

Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
SOCIAL SCIENCE / Sociology / General