Kitesurfing: action, (inter)action and mediation

Geenen, Jarret
Norris, Sigrid
Jones, Rodney H.
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Doctor of Philosophy
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Auckland University of Technology

This thesis examines the actions, (inter)action and practices exemplified in the lifestyle sport of kitesurfing. The phenomenon of ‘lifestyle sport’ (Wheaton 2004b) has received increasing empirical attention over the past fifteen years as it has become a prevalent component within contemporary life. Drastic increases in participation, the manifestation of sporting subcultures and the growing adventure tourism industry has given impetus to various academic approaches to investigating the nature of this phenomenon.

This thesis approaches the relatively newly emergent lifestyle sports of kitesurfing from a multimodal mediated theoretical (Norris 2013a) perspective. On the grounds that key characteristics of lifestyle sport are the consumption and employment of emerging technologies and participation in unbounded and luminal spaces, this thesis examines the complex and dynamic ways in which social actors act, (inter)act and employ mediational means in the undertaking of mediated action. The thesis is based on a one-year video-ethnography, as well as empirical methods and methodological notions from Multimodal (Inter)action Analysis (Norris 2004, 2011).

This thesis is theoretical in nature and through the employment of ethnographic methods and audio-video analysis, I have developed multiple theoretical notions which are useful in understanding the complexities of mediated action.

First, by conceptualising kitesurfing as a system of mediated action, I have found four characteristics which exemplify the system itself: 1. Systems of mediated action develop to serve socio-cultural, economic, industrial, commercial, educational, or creative functions; 2. Systems of mediated action change in direct connection with mediational means/cultural tools; 3. Systems of mediated action manifest embedded systems; and, 4. Systems of mediated action manifest some of the same actions as belonging to and/or creating different practices.

Second, through developing the concept of actionary pertinence as being the primary organising component in the ways in which social actors read, interpret and valuate elements of the natural environment. I have found that social actors conceive of kitesurfing locations through the system of mediated action and resultantly, as intimately intertwined with the mediational means through which action occurs.

Third, I have found that mediation is most accurately conceptualised as a property of the interrelationship between multiple interconnected mediational means. The ways in which mediational means function in the equation is always and only in relation to multiple others, therefore, it is analytically necessary to consider the complex interrelationships that manifest through mediated action.

Fourth, I have used the notion of touch/response-feel (Norris 2012); and found that the actions and (inter)actions exemplified in the sport of kitesurfing are primarily characterisable as a haptic dialogic process of touch/response-feel whereby social actors co-construct and co-create more complex and temporally fleeting mediational means which are then employed in subsequent mediated actions. In doing so, social actors develop a practice of predication regarding the ways in which particular touch(es) will produce particular response-feel(s).

Finally, in my discussion I articulate utility of participation as a methodological tool showing that it can provide an affective, in-the-moment and material foundation for the analysis of data while ensuring the maintenance of a localised perspective in the approach to haptic, somatic and kinesthetic phenomena.

Multimodal mediated theory , Social interaction , Lifestyle sport , Multimodality , Practice theory
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