1st Edition

Exploring the Natural Underground A New Sociology of Caving

By Kevin Bingham Copyright 2023
    174 Pages 15 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    This book explores the enigmatic world of the natural underground, viewing it as a site of leisure and a primary sphere of anthropotechnics. It reshapes the old language of caving into new ideas that broaden the possibilities of the sociology of caving.

    After outlining a novel methodological approach that can be used to understand new leisure trends and cultures in present modernity, Exploring the Natural Underground offers a comprehensive investigation of the societal context in which caving takes place. Thereafter, it goes on to argue that the natural underground can be used as a means of escaping some of the unavoidable influences of consumer capitalism in the way that it stimulates imaginations, senses and emotions differently.

    Marking a turning point in the way that the natural underground is understood and the degree to which sensory dimensions of leisure are valued, this book will appeal to anybody interested in caving, as well as scholars and students of leisure studies, the sociology of leisure, the ethnography of leisure and human geography.

    1 Introduction: First Encounters with the Kingdom of the Dark

    2 Descenders, Static Line and Some Methodological Considerations: Choosing ‘Tackle’ for the Job

    3 The Underside of Modernity

    4 The Poetics of Caving: Rediscovering Intimate Things

    5 Unsilencing Fear in the Natural Underground

    6 Life and Death Underground: Mortality, Immortality and Other Survival Strategies

    7 An Uncommercial Traveller’s Guide to the Art of Sublimation

    8 Journeying to the End and Back: Reaching a Choke


    Kevin Bingham is Higher Education Lecturer in the Department of Service Industries at Barnsley College in the United Kingdom. He has published in the fields of leisure studies, sport and sociology.

    'In Exploring the Natural Underground, Bingham examines the transformative power of dreaming, accessing, and exploring the hidden dimensions of our Earth. Deeply contemplative and philosophical, this book is about the power of hidden dimensions which inspire new ways of living, being, and imagining, together. It is an “existential leap” indeed.'

    María Alejandra Pérez, West Virginia University, USA