Parkour, Deviance and Leisure in the Late-Capitalist City: An Ethnography

Thomas Raymen
University of Plymouth, UK

Product Details
05 Dec 2018
Emerald Publishing Limited
192 pages - 152 x 229mm
Emerald Studies in Deviant Leisure
Taking us on an ethnographic journey into the spatially transgressive practice of parkour and freerunning, Parkour, Deviance and Leisure in the Late-Capitalist City: An Ethnography attempts to explain and untangle some of the contradictions that surround this popular lifestyle sport and its exclusion from our hyper-regulated cities. While the existing criminological wisdom suggests that these practices are a form of politicised resistance, this book positions parkour and freerunning as hyper-conformist to the underlying values of consumer capitalism and explains how late-capitalism has created a contradiction for itself in which it must stoke desire for these lifestyle practices whilst also excluding their free practice from central urban spaces. 

Drawing on the emergent deviant leisure perspective, this book takes us into the life-worlds of young people who are attempting to navigate the challenges and anxieties of early adulthood. For the young people in this study, consumer capitalism's commodification of rebellious iconography offered unique identities of 'cool individualism' and opportunities for flexibilised employment; while the post-industrial 'creative city' attempted to harness parkour's practice, prohibitively if necessary, into approved spatial contexts under the buzzwords of 'culture' and 'creativity'. 

This book offers a vital contribution to the criminological literature on spatial transgression, and in doing so, engages in a critical reappraisal of the evolution of the relationships between work, leisure, identity and urban space in consumer capitalism.
Chapter 1. The ‘Paradox’ of Parkour 
Chapter 2. Moving with the Times: Parkour, Leisure and Social Change 
Chapter 3. Ultra-Realism, Parkour and Capitalist Ideology 
Chapter 4. Movers and Shakers 
Chapter 5. Zombie Cities 
Chapter 6. The Parkour City 
Chapter 7. ‘Sorry Lads’ (But I’ve got to move you on) 
Chapter 8. Conclusion and Futures
Thomas Raymen is Lecturer in Criminology at Plymouth University, UK. He is the co-founder of the Deviant Leisure Research Network and has published articles in peer-reviewed journals on topics including commodified leisure and social harm, crime control and urban space, and violence, consumerism and violent media. His research interests span the fields of criminology, leisure studies, moral philosophy, and cultural geography.
"Every once in a while, a social scientist comes along who is willing to defy convention and forge ahead with a radically different understanding of society and its problems. Thomas Raymen is one such social scientist." - Simon Winlow, Professor of Criminology, Northumbria University

“Thomas Raymen brings together cutting edge social theory and immersive fieldwork, rendering Parkour a subject of serious intellectual import… A landmark text.” - Dr Travis Linnemann, of the School of Justice Studies, Eastern Kentucky University and ASC Critical Criminologist of the Year 2017.

[The book offers] an effective corrective to both the academic and popular perceptions of

parkour on one hand, and a powerful critique of contemporary late-capitalist society that goes far

beyond the subject matter of parkour, on the other. The argument is well-crafted and

convincing, the ethnography woven smoothly together with theory, while always keeping

in mind the bigger picture, thus becoming far more than a mere ethnography of

parkour. The book can be recommended as essential reading to scholars, students, and

anyone interested in criminology, sociology and anthropology and for that matter

contemporary consumer society – it makes for a good and important read. - Tereza Kuldova, Journal of Extreme Anthropology, 2019

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