Special Issue "Extreme Sports, Extreme Bodies"
A special issue of Social Sciences (ISSN 2076-0760).
Deadline for manuscript submissions: 15 September 2019
Since around the turn of the twenty-first century, there has been a significant growth of sports that have been understood and conceptualized as somewhat different from so-called traditional, mainstream Western achievement sports. Consequently, a wide variety of alternative and extreme sports—including ultra-marathoning, sky-diving, ultimate fighting, bodybuilding, multisport and a mix of other activities—have come to receive increased attention from researchers, the media and commercial stakeholders. A steadily-growing number of committed practitioners have also contributed to strengthening the grassroots of these kinds of sports. Obviously, they all have their own distinctive histories, geographies, identities and development patterns. Some are recent phenomena, while others have cultural histories that echo back for centuries. At the same time, they can be said to share some commonalities concerning how they have gradually developed from somewhat subcultural, marginal, and pre-commercialised physical (youth) cultures, into spectacular extreme sports with great numbers of practitioners and large audiences in contemporary society. Over time, the labelling of the broadly used term alternative sports has also been successively refined, and the prefixes of these sports have variously been discussed as, for example, ‘extreme’, ‘action’, ‘lifestyle’, ‘new’, ‘postmodern’, etc.
This Special Issue is intended to be situated within a currently growing body of literature in which researchers have analyzed the development of a variety of extreme training trends and the impact different forms of exercise have on the individual’s body, identity, lifestyle and perception of his/her social surroundings. Through a compilation of articles, we will embrace a perspective in which the extreme (sport/body/lifestyle/identity) analytically is approached as a fluid, contextual and relational concept. The concept of the extreme will thus be utilized as an analytical window to understand different lifestyle choices and how people, through different means, are finding new ways to define (and possible exceed) themselves and approach their bodies. The concept of the extreme is, of course, also unconditionally tied to some sort of perception of the non-extreme or the common/ordinary/profane/normal, which can be found at the other end of an imagined continuum. It has been argued that, no matter how peripheral they are in the world of (mainstream) sport, extreme sports should also be understood as determined, defined and developed in relation to processes of commercialization and the development of an individualized contemporary enterprise culture. Thus, extreme sports have been situated within, for example, the historical conjuncture of Western individualism, global communication, entertainment industries and a growing global and young, most often white/Caucasian, population.
This call direct itself towards researchers interested in the contemporary transformation of the body, and of sports and activities challenging the limits of the human body and capacity to transform the body. We are looking for studies on different extreme sports, such as bodybuilding, mixed martial arts, ultra-marathoning, climbing and more. We are also interested in theoretical and historical articles in the field of body studies. Using a broad and heuristic definition of the extreme, we are interested in articles that address how people by different means transcend the limits of the body and challenge their minds and bodies in unforeseen ways.
Prof. Thomas Johansson
Dr. Jesper Andreasson
Manuscript Submission Information
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- extreme sports
- digital culture