1st Edition

The Cultural Politics of Lifestyle Sports

By Belinda Wheaton Copyright 2013
    248 Pages 15 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    248 Pages 15 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    This important new study examines the changing place and meaning of lifestyle sports – parkour, surfing, skateboarding, kite-surfing and others – and asks whether they continue to pose a challenge to the dominant meanings and experience of ‘sport’ and physical culture.

    Drawing on a series of in-depth, empirical case-studies, the book offers a re-evaluation of theoretical frameworks with which lifestyle sports have been understood, and focuses on aspects of their cultural politics that have received little attention, particularly the racialization of lifestyle sporting spaces. Centrally, it re-assess the political potential of lifestyle sports, considering if lifestyle sports cultures present alternative identities and spaces that challenge the dominant ideologies of sport, and the broader politics of identity, in the 21st century.

    It explores a range of key contemporary themes in lifestyle sport, including:

    • identity and the politics of difference
    • commercialization and globalization
    • sportscapes, media discourse and lived reality
    • risk and responsibility
    • governance and regulation
    • the racialization of lifestyle sports spaces
    • lifestyle sports outside of the Global North
    • the use of lifestyle sport to engage non-privileged youth

    Casting new light on the significance of sport and sporting subcultures within contemporary society, this book is essential reading for students or researcher working in the sociology of sport, leisure studies or cultural studies.

    Chapter 1. Introduction  Chapter 2. Understanding lifestyle sport revisited  Chapter 3. Mapping the lifestyle sportscape  Chapter 4. Lifestyle Sport, identity and the politics of difference  Chapter 5. Risk-taking and regulation: Examining the sportization of Parkour  Chapter 6. Globalisation, identity and race: lifestyle sport in post- apartheid South Africa  Chapter 7. The California beach, whiteness, and the exclusion of Black bodies  Chapter 8. Surfing, identity and race: belonging and exclusion  Chapter 9. Challenging exclusion: The Black Surfing Association  Chapter 10. Coda


    Belinda Wheaton is Principal Research Fellow in Sport and Leisure Cultures at the University of Brighton, UK. Her extensive research on lifestyle sport cultures has been published across a wide range of international journals and edited collections. She is also the editor of Understanding Lifestyle Sports: consumption, identity and difference (Routledge, 2004) and The Consumption and Representation of Lifestyle Sports (Routledge, 2012).

    "Belinda Wheaton's new book makes a really important contribution to the study of socio-cultural change by focusing upon the political promise of lifestyle sports and on sporting life outside the global north as well as at more privileged sites. Her work is nuanced and sophisticated in its analysis of the complex intersection of the axes of power as played out in sport in contemporary societies. In a study of the fast expanding field of lifestyle sport, which is both scholarly and accessible, Wheaton presents a critical and innovative approach which will be of enormous value to students and researchers."Kath Woodward, Professor of Sociology, The Open University, UK 

    "A state-of-the art examination of research and thinking about sports such as surfing, parkour, windsurfing, skateboarding. The book deals in important ways with contexts such as race and place, and with issues such as social inclusion/exclusion and the environment; adds new insights to our understanding of lifestyle sports; and provides a solid platform for future research on these forms of sport."Peter Donnelly, Professor at the Faculty of Kinesiology and Physical Education, University of Toronto, Canada

    "Since they emerged in the 1960s, so-called "lifestyle sports" have offered a radical alternative to mainstream, hyper-commercialized competitive sports. But what happens when "new" sports cultures are no longer new? Are they inevitably compromised, commodified and institutionalized? Do such forms of physical culture still offer modes of cultural resistance to dominant paradigms? In her brilliant new book, Belinda Wheaton answers these questions. From the beaches of Durban, South Africa to Southern California and beyond, Wheaton shows how the emergence and global diffusion of lifestyle sports are complexly bound to questions of identity. As empirically rich as it is theoretically sophisticated, The Cultural Politics of Lifestyle Sports is the definitive text for anyone interested in understanding the history of lifestyle sports why they matter today." - Ben Carrington, Associate Professor of Sociology, University of Texas at Austin, USA