Surfing life: surface, substructure and the commodification of the sublime

Mark Stranger’s first words of his book Surfing Life dedicate the work to his father saying ‘He started this whole thing with the sea for me’. Flicking through the book to get the flavour of ‘this thing with the sea’, I was struck by the appendices*one listing Australian surfing places I know*such as Torquay in Victoria and Lennox Heads in New South Wales and another listing people involved in his extensive empirical material that included a year of ‘travelling around Australia living in a tent’ (xi), while he conducted fieldwork. Some of the names I know and in others I recognize the characters I’ve met. There are significant names from the public surfing world, like Pam Burridge and Gail Austen, which are famous in the competitive world. There are also pseudonymed characters such as Blue, a ‘female less than 26, desert location, long-term resident of the desert camp, bodyboarder’ (257). I recognized such characters in my own research and my own experience of surfing and could relate to some of his ‘insider’ perspectives. These locations, interview material and his own experiences act as the water for his sea washing through his book. This water mixes with contemporary social theory to finish in an argument that subcultures, such as surfing, are ‘integral to the broader dialectical processes of postmodernization’ (253) or if you like ‘an early agent of postmodernization’ (254).
Journal Article
Type of thesis
Hunter, L. (2012). Book review: Surfing life: surface, substructure and the commodification of the sublime. Sport, Education and Society, 17(3), 439-442.