Pleasurable Surfing is Possible: Ethnographic Insights into the Constructive Sociation Choices Behind Meaningful Nothingness

Paul Cook*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

This article explores the meaningful nothingness between conflict and hedonism experienced by most surfers. It explains how meaningful nothingness is achieved through constructive individual and collective sociation choices. These choices, exemplified through acts of omission and commission, inform mutually beneficial social forms where conflict is mundanely resolved or avoided by diverse social types. For the past 60 years, scholars have employed interpretations of Marx’s conflict theory to focus on surfing’s extremes by emphasising objective inequities and explaining how marginalised social types are confronted by the deviant in a power struggle for limited resources. The originality of this article is in its use of Simmel’s conflict theory and Scott’s sociology of nothing as a balanced framework to illuminate the unnoticed and taken-for-granted practices and processes that receive little analytical recognition but are fundamental to pleasurable surfing for all. Drawing on data from a 20-year ethnography of global surfing, findings reveal how constructive sociation choices are learned and employed by surfers to ensure that either triadic closure or sociability is the tribe’s final form. The significance of this article is that it presents an insight into how a diverse majority of surfers choose meaningful nothingness over the politics of difference.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages15
JournalLeisure Studies
Early online date8 Jun 2022
DOIs
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 8 Jun 2022

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