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Forty Years of Transformations: Swedish Skateboarding Culture and Organisation
Swedish School of Sport and Health Sciences, GIH, Department of Sport and Health Sciences, Forskningsgruppen för pedagogisk idrottsforskning.ORCID iD: 0000-0003-1230-3415
2018 (English)In: Managing Sport in a Changing Europe: The 26th European Sport Management Conference, Book of abstracts / [ed] Bo Carlsson, Tim Breitbarth, Daniel Bjärsholm, 2018, p. 285-286Conference paper, Oral presentation with published abstract (Refereed)
Abstract [en]

Forty Years of Transformations - Swedish Skateboarding Culture and Organisation

Aim

The aim of this presentation is to sum up findings from ethnographic and historic datacollected for a period of twenty years in order to outline the transformations of skateboardingculture and organisation in Sweden from the 1970’s to present day.

Theoretical Background and Literature Review

Skateboarding has a celebrated subversive past claiming heritage from Californian surferssneaking into emptied backyard swimming pools during summer draught. The (hi)story hasbeen commemorated through the classic movie Dogtown and the Z-boys. Ever since, socialresistance has been part and parcel of skateboarding’s cultural image (Borden, 2001).Although stemming from subcultural and underground practices, skateboarding has nowreached worldwide audiences through X-games. In June this year, the sport’s firstinternational conference titled Pushing boarders was held in London. It gathered academicscholars, skateboarders and engaged people from the industry. Moreover, in 2020,skateboarding will be launched as a new sport in the Olympic Games. Skateboarders onceopposing the sport industry and nine-five-jobs have transformed from core practitioners toconsumers (Dinces, 2011; Dupont, 2014; Lombard, 2010). This depicts a transformation fromsubculture to a professionalised sport, at least for some and in some places. In Sweden,parallel to these trends, skateboarding contrastingly formed a national federation under theNational Sports Confederation (RF) for the first time 2013.

Research Design and Data Analysis

Through four ethnographic projects extending over two decades, and related historicalmaterial, this presentation draws from participant observation and multiple empiricalmaterials. Ethnography has the potential to capture “inside” views of everyday life (Atkinson,2014). The research participants are diverse in terms of age, gender and positions in the fieldetc. The data includes interviews, photographs and various media in both printed and digitalfrom. It contains both commercial and non-commercial content and spans from the late1970’s until present day. The semi-structured interviews follow thematically structured guidesand were conducted face-to-face with snowball samples. For this presentation Stamm andLamprecht’s (1998) model for describing the life cycle of trend sports is used as a startingpoint for a thematic content analysis over time. The model indicates the interrelation oftechnological innovation, marketing and socio-cultural factors.

Findings and Discussion

Every stage in Stamm and Lamprecht’s (1998) model is characterized by different degrees ofcommercialisation, as well as diverse types of organisation and various degrees ofrecognition. The trend sports are also pursued by different groups; in the early stages pioneersand further on by young people in subcultures, followed by athletes in the fourth stage toanybody in the final stage. Confrontation against the established sport organisations andglorification of a presumed authentic past is part of the third stage. This is followed byfashion in mainstream culture as part of the fourth stage.298It is argued that skateboarding in Sweden to some extent has followed this model. Numerousexamples point to the fourth stage characterized by maturation and diffusion. For instance it ispossible for practitioners to make a living from skateboarding in various ways; skateboardingis popular in mass media; goods are mass produces and skateboarding has been integrated incertain school forms. In short, processes of commercialisation and professionalization arepresent.The straight forward processes proposed in the model are however complicated byskateboarding in Sweden since 2013 being formally organized though the National SportsConfederation. Through this organisation some skateboarders are now part and parcel ofmainstream sports, however their subcultural ideas persist, not least when it comes toleadership and coaching. This is paradoxically partly challenging the National SportsConfederation in that funding systems are urged to be re-negotiated. Simultaneously, theSwedish skateboarding association opens up activities for inclusion and equality urged by theNational Sports Confederation.

Conclusion and Implications

The presentation contributes with new empirical findings on the socio-cultural developmentof skateboarding in Sweden and beyond, which confirms but also complicates the straightforward model of the life cycle of trend sports. Skateboarding has gone from innovativephysical activity recognised by few, to highly commercialised and familiar, but it is also anational association with no commercial profit promoting democratic values.

References

Atkinson, P. (2014). For Ethnography. London: Sage.

Borden, I. (2001). Skateboarding, Space and the City: Architecture and the Body. New York: Berg.

Dinces, S. (2011). ‘Flexible Opposition’: Skateboarding Subcultures under the Rubric of LateCapitalism. The International Journal of the History of Sport, 28(11), 1512-1535.

Dupont, T. (2014). From Core to Consumer: The Informal Hierarchy of the Skateboard Scene. Journalof Contemporary Ethnography, 43(5), 556-581.

Lombard, K. (2010). Skate and create/skate and destroy: The commercial and governmentalincorporation of skateboarding. Continuum: Journal Of Media & Cultural Studies, 24(4),475-488.

Stamm, H-P. & Lamprecht, B. (1998) The life cycle of trend sports. In: C. Jaccoud & Y. Pedrazzini(Eds) Glisser dans la ville: les politiques sportives a` l’e’preuve des sports de rue[Gliding in the street: sporting politics related to street sports], Acts from the Neuchâtel.Colloquium of the 18th and 19th Septembre 1997 (Neuchâtel, Editions CIES).

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2018. p. 285-286
National Category
Social Sciences
Research subject
Social Sciences/Humanities
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:gih:diva-5444OAI: oai:DiVA.org:gih-5444DiVA, id: diva2:1256247
Conference
EASM 2018, The 26th European Sport Management Conference. September 5-8, Malmö
Available from: 2018-10-16 Created: 2018-10-16 Last updated: 2018-10-17Bibliographically approved

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