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An Ethnographic Exploration of Gender Experiences of a New Zealand Surf Culture

This thesis is an ethnographic exploration of gender experiences in a New Zealand surf culture. I employed the methods of participant observation, semi-structured interviews and focus groups to accumulate in-depth and descriptive qualitative data from the men and women who surf in the community of Raglan. I was especially interested in the rules surrounding the act of lining up - a systematic etiquette used to queue for waves. I inquired about surfers' struggles when lining up to deepen my understanding of the cultural behaviour of surfing and to help reveal implicit rules underpinning surf etiquette. As a female surfer, I was especially interested to understand the gender-relations between men and women in the waters in which I participated in. I discovered that subtle rules pertain to different groups of surfers and group emerged based on 'other' surfer characteristics. Although gender surfaced as a characteristic way of sorting surfers into groups, gender did not stand out more critical than others revealed throughout the research process. What was evident throughout the research was that men and women experience more commonalities in their surfing experiences than differences. Therefore, this research shows how the waves become a contested spaces for surfers and how surf culture serves as a site for resistance to gendered identities in contemporary Western society.
Type of thesis
Corner, S. B. (2008). An Ethnographic Exploration of Gender Experiences of a New Zealand Surf Culture (Thesis, Master of Social Sciences (MSocSc)). The University of Waikato, Hamilton, New Zealand. Retrieved from https://hdl.handle.net/10289/2332
The University of Waikato
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