David Le Breton

Il corpo in pericolo. Antropologia delle attività fisiche e sportive a rischio

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Western societies have recently been the site of a significant increase of dangerous physical and sporting activities. Those sports are usually practised by individuals from middle and upper-class background with both money and time to spare, and who try to escape the routine of their work and private lives. They hope to find a "life intensity" through extreme practices that are often difficult but nonetheless remain within an individual's realm of abilities. Danger is usually battled by institutions as something they try and prevent when it concerns technology or everyday life. However, when deliberately chosen, the experience of danger provides these individuals with an opportunity to defy the norm, find themselves and escape boredom. When danger is perceived as leisure, it then becomes a place from which meaning and excitement are derived. Practitioners of dangerous activities thus sublimate "nature" which they see as the site of authenticity and sincerity, as opposed to the hypocritical and false character of society. "Wilderness", that is "extreme nature", legitimatizes the individual since it "recognizes its own" and provides the individual with the opportunity to radically assess what s/he is. "Wilderness" is seen to offer a variety of trials individuals may inflict themselves in order to prove their own legitimacy to exist: it plays an integral part and the construction of a strong sense of identity.


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