Sea kayakers at the margins: The liminoid character of contemporary adventures

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The ethnographic data considered here were gathered over a seven-month period on and around the Isle of Anglesey in North Wales. The data were partly collected during sea kayaking courses at a commercial outdoor centre and also during more informal outings with independent members of a sea kayaking club. Material recorded on accompanied journeys, during participation on group courses and on expeditions was triangulated with notes from semi-structured interviews and spontaneous discussions. The notions of marginal danger and of apparently approaching the 'edge' are key characteristics of the late-modern forms of adventurous leisure. It is proposed that, rather like the strange vertical world of the rock climber or the subterranean one of the potholer, the sea kayakers' environment is an alien, marginal, liminoid world. The ocean is not the natural territory of human beings. The kayakers move from the land to the sea and from comfort to hardship, from security to uncertainty, passivity to commitment and from action governed via ocular experience to total bodily/sensual immersion. Importantly, these shared experiences provide belonging in the ecstatic, temporary, Dionysiac communities who meet in these marginal places and situations in search of adventure and escape. Danger is but a small part of the meaning of such activity; it is the liminoid experience that is of key importance to participants.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)85-98
Number of pages14
JournalLeisure Studies
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 14 Jan 2011
Externally publishedYes


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