Parkour and the City: Risk, Masculinity, and Meaning in a Postmodern Sport

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    Jeffrey Lowell Kidder

    Publisher: Rutgers University Press

    Year: 2017

    Format: Paperback

    Size: 256 pages

    ISBN: 9780813571959

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In the increasingly popular sport of parkour, athletes run, jump, climb, flip, and vault through city streetscapes, resembling urban gymnasts to passersby and awestruck spectators. In Parkour and the City, cultural sociologist Jeffrey L. Kidder examines the ways in which this sport involves a creative appropriation of urban spaces as well as a method of everyday risk-taking by a youth culture that valorizes individuals who successfully manage danger.

Parkour’s modern development has been tied closely to the growth of the internet. The sport is inevitably a YouTube phenomenon, making it exemplary of new forms of globalized communication. Parkour’s dangerous stunts resonate, too, Kidder contends, with a neoliberal ideology that is ambivalent about risk. Moreover, as a male-dominated sport, parkour, with its glorification of strength and daring, reflects contemporary Western notions of masculinity. At the same time, Kidder writes, most athletes (known as “traceurs” or “freerunners”) reject a “daredevil” label, preferring a deliberate, reasoned hedging of bets with their own safety—rather than a “pushing the edge” ethos normally associated with extreme sports.

About the Author

JEFFREY L. KIDDER is an associate professor of sociology at Northern Illinois University in DeKalb. He is the author of Urban Flow: Bike Messengers and the City.

What People Are Saying
"Combining lucid prose and informed by critical scholarship, Kidder elucidates the meanings and cultures of a twenty-first century sport from the streets of the megacity to the hand-held social media device. Timely and sound, Parkour and the City has much to offer to the community.​"​ Paul Gilchrist, coeditor of The Politics of Sport

"In this fascinating book, Kidder reveals the complex ways in which parkour participants engage with risk and perform hegemonic forms of sporting masculinity. Parkour and the City reveals many of the paradoxes of informal lifestyle sporting activities and the ways they resonate with postmodern culture." Belinda Wheaton, School of Human Development and Movement Studies, University of Waikato

"Kidder’s descriptive and engaging text touches deftly on a number of timely and relevant areas of interest for scholars in many fields and many places." International Review for the Sociology of Sport

"Kidder walks the reader through his conclusions and makes compelling arguments, and overall, the book is well written and clearly organized. The most interesting chapter discusses traceurs’ hedgework, rituals of risk, and symbolic practices of safety. It is easily accessible for readers who want to learn more about the sport of parkour. In reading Kidder’s book, one is instantly inserted into a parkour jam but with a sociological lens." Gender & Society

"The book is well written, and I recommend it to all scholars and students who are interested in lifestyle sport, urban sociology or to those who are looking for a good example of how sport (as well as all human activity) is significant beyond itself."

"This is a well-researched, well-written, and ultimately intriguing study that will position Kidder at the forefront of scholarship on this cultural form for some time to come." American Journal of Sociology

Table of Contents


Introduction: Thinking Sociologically about Parkour

1 Developing the Discipline and Creating a Sport

2 New Prisms of the Possible

3 Young Men in the City

4 Hedging Their Bets

Conclusions: Appropriating the City

Appendix A: Brief Note on Data and Method

Appendix B: On the Parkour Terminology Used in This Book




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