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School of Business | Department of Marketing | Marketing | 2012
Thesis number: 13120
Beyond risk: Communitas, flow and embodiment in the practices of paragliding
Author: Leskelä, Diana
Title: Beyond risk: Communitas, flow and embodiment in the practices of paragliding
Year: 2012  Language: eng
Department: Department of Marketing
Academic subject: Marketing
Index terms: markkinointi; marketing; kulutus; consumption; kuluttajakäyttäytyminen; consumer behaviour; vapaa-aika; leisure; ilmailu; aviation; etnografia; ethnography
Pages: 149
Full text:
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Key terms: practice theory; practices; embodiment; risk; paragliding; videography; ethnography; high-risk consumption
Abstract This consumer behavior study investigates paragliding, a little studied form of engineless free flight in which a pilot uses naturally occurring air currents to ascend, stay aloft, and fly across distances while seated under a frameless nylon canopy. Purpose of the Study This study seeks to understand the practices of paragliding, through an examination of its web of practice-arrangements, and how paraglider pilots experience them. By extension, I ask what role embodied cognition may play in these practices; and whether practice theory or embodiment help expand our understanding of a risky-sport experience Methodology Ontologically this study is grounded in practice theory. The research method utilizes videography, participant observation and interviews. The findings are presented via a rhetorical collage alternating ethnographic thick description with theoretical analysis utilizing theories of flow, embodied cognition and practices. Findings The practices of paragliding offer an ever changing experience in which pilots navigate the invisible in a dance of total attention that engenders flow, communitas with other pilots, and a spiritual sense of union with a higher natural order that leads them to endure regular sacrifices to realize and maintain their dreams to fly like a bird. Paragliding shows some parallels to the Celsi et al (1993) model of high-risk consumption, however a completely different web of practices and interlinked embodied experiences result in a distinct framing of the experience outside of considerations of risk, adrenaline or social rebellion. Embodied cognition is tacitly incorporated into training regimes as a critical component of learning and doing the practices that help paragliders not only to achieve transformative states but to conceive of, and understand them. Theories of embodiment and practice theory have a strong affinity. Practice theory is an effective ontological tool for studying activities with elements of risk that allows researchers to drop restrictive framing biases in favor of seeing a phenomenon in all its multi-layered, intersecting dimensions. Keywords practice theory, practices, embodiment, risk, paragliding, videography, ethnography, high-risk consumption
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