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Transnational mobilities in action sport cultures

Principal Researcher: Associate Professor Holly Thorpe

Project Dates: July 2014 - ongoing

Action sport participants are prolific users of digital and social media that ‘blur the boundaries between physical and imaginative mobility’ (Jansson, 2007, p. 6). The importance of social media is highlighted in ‘Digital Media and the Transnational Imaginary: Virtual Memorialization of Global Action Sport Stars’ (Chapter 3), which discusses how sporting communities are evolving in the age of web 2.0, and the role of the internet in the cultural/digital memorialization of fallen sporting heroes. In ‘The Emergence of Action Sports in the Middle East: Imagining New Mobilities with Parkour in Gaza’ (Chapter 8), there is a discussion on the role of social and digital media for the growth (and cultural reappropriation) of action sports in the Middle East, as well as how young men who practice parkour in Gaza are using social media for political purposes.

Why is this research important?

Trends in contemporary action sport cultures raise important questions about the changing nature of sport in the 21st century. Adopting a global ethnographic approach and engaging multiple theoretical perspectives, this project culminating in the book, ‘ Transnational Migration and Mobilities in Action Sport Culture’, examines how transnational action sport corporations, mega events and media spectacles, the international travel patterns of athletes, tourists and migrants, and the high use of social media among participants, are contributing to the emergence of a transnational imaginary within and across action sport communities.

What are the key findings to date?

Associate Professor Thorpe is continuing to explore the importance of social media in the lives of youth in a Marsden-funded project on action sports in sites of war, conflict and disaster. She is developing digital ethnographic methods using Facebook, Instagram and Twitter and exploring the ethical implications of such methods, as well as software and programmes to facilitate more systematic and rigorous digital research methods.

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