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Making the jump: Examining the glocalisation of parkour in Aotearoa New Zealand

Once a niche physical pastime of a small group of men in the urban suburbs of France, parkour is now a global phenomenon. Parkour provides an ideal context to investigate contemporary youth, and adoptees of this primarily youthful culture, and their increasingly connected experiences. Using a social constructionist approach, this research explores the global and local influences that affect the experiences of parkour practitioners in New Zealand and contribute to the establishment of parkour in New Zealand. I draw on multiple qualitative methods of inquiry, including 30 in-depth interviews with a diverse group of New Zealand practitioners, participant observations, a digital ethnography on social media, as well as my personal reflections as a parkour practitioner and community insider. I implement three different theoretical perspectives to understanding the glocalisation (Robertson, 1995, 2012) of parkour in New Zealand, with each one helping to unpack specific elements of the parkour experience. In my first empirical chapter I draw on Appadurai’s (1990, 1996) model of global cultural flows which provides a framework to introduce and understand the various macro movements of people, media, technology, ideas, as well as the physical landscape that underpins the broad experiences of New Zealand practitioners. In the second I adopt a mobilities approach (Sheller & Urry, 2006; Urry, 2007) to ask questions about how parkour participation is experienced differently by core and marginalised members of its community, informing experiences of gender and ethnicity. In the third and final empirical chapter I draw upon Ritzer’s (2003a, 2007) concept of ‘globalisation of nothing’ to facilitate an exploration of the development of Parkour NZ and how the New Zealand community involves itself in the politics of parkour’s global institutionalisation. These accounts demonstrate that there are concurrent examples of universality and particularity as New Zealand practitioners negotiate between their global and local parkour experiences. This research suggests that an appreciation of glocalised experiences is essential for understanding the ways in which adherents of contemporary youth cultures like parkour make sense of their lives in an increasingly connected and globalised world.
Type of thesis
Puddle, D. (2019). Making the jump: Examining the glocalisation of parkour in Aotearoa New Zealand (Thesis, Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)). The University of Waikato, Hamilton, New Zealand. Retrieved from https://hdl.handle.net/10289/12712
The University of Waikato
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