Edgework: A Modern Phenomenon Or a Discourse Symbolising An Innate Human Quest?

Monday, July 14, 2014: 11:15 AM
Room: Booth 52
Oral Presentation
Charlotte FABIANSSON , Sociology, College of Arts, Victoria University, Melbourne, Australia
The paper explores if edgework is rooted in a human quest for excitement and challenge and if contemporary edgework can be compared with historical explorative expeditions, where humans and equipment endured extreme challenges. Hunter Thompson (1971, 1979) defined edgework as a voluntary risk activity requiring extraordinary knowledge, mental and physical skills, which is different from voluntary risk taking actions where no skills above everyday knowledge are required. More recently, Lyng (1990) explores the edgework discourse in analysing skydiving and Fletcher’s (2008) risky behaviour and practices within elite and professional sport. Activates based on a perception of having control of a situation, such as gambling, might also relate to edgework (Fabiansson 2010). The paper argues from Bourdieu’s (1978, 1984) habitus discourse the influence of the social and cultural environment on human action and perception of societal place, that contemporary edgework activities and historical expeditions have common grounds in symbolising an innate human quest to challenge the everyday, but differs in presentation of the achievements in the private and public spheres. Where historical expeditions are placed in the public sphere for the explorer to gain public acknowledgement, while modern edgework is practiced in the private sphere or within a close knit group of likeminded edgework followers.