Parkour and the City
Risk, Masculinity, and Meaning in a Postmodern Sport
Rutgers University Press 2017
New Books in American StudiesNew Books in ArchitectureNew Books in Arts & LettersNew Books in Gender StudiesNew Books in Peoples & PlacesNew Books in Politics & SocietyNew Books in SociologyNew Books in SportsNew Books Network October 26, 2017 Michael O. Johnston
The meaning assigned to architecture is complex and varied. Urban architecture is often stripped of meaning when people abandon the neighborhoods or are absent of meaning at the time of their inception. This leaves the people who inhabit the terrain to assign their own meaning to the architecture. Jeffrey Kidder, the author of Parkour and the City: Risk, Masculinity, and Meaning in a Postmodern Sport (Rutgers University Press, 2017) and my guest for this episode, observed the way traceurs in Chicago, Illinois use urban architecture to express masculinity and risk-taking in their performance of parkour. In our interview, we discuss how this study was shaped from his past observations of message carriers, as well as topics such as the impact that history has on the development of parkour in nations around the world, the perception that traceurs have on hyper-masculine males who are viewed as dangerous when performing parkour, and the difference between risk-taking behavior and thrill-seeking behavior. We also learn about his thoughts on the current environment of risk-taking in lifestyle sports and how these sports are different from competitive (or team) sports.
Jeffrey Kidder, Ph.D. is an associate professor of sociology at Northern Illinois University in DeKalb, Illinois. Dr. Kidder has focused his research and teaching pursuits on the intersection of cultural sociology and urban sociology. He is currently on a one year sabbatical in Colorado where he is continuing his research on risk-taking behavior and lifestyle sports—this time observing skiers, snowboarders, mountain bikers, climbers, etc.
Michael O. Johnston, Ph.D. is an Assistant Professor of Sociology at William Penn University. He is a graduate of the public policy and public administration program at Walden University. His most recent paper, to be presented at the upcoming American Society for Environmental History conference, is titled “Down Lover’s Lane: A Brief History of Necking in Cars.” You can learn more about Johnston’s work here.