Rock climbing culture in Austin, TX

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2015-05

Authors

McZeal, Corey James

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Abstract

The sport of rock climbing has seen a boom over the last two decades. Interestingly, this boom has not been due to the extreme commercialization of the sport, but by the increasing availability of indoor climbing venues that allow individuals to foster the skills that allow them to eventually climb outdoors. While the demographics of climbers can vary by region, in Austin, Texas climbers tend to be middle class, male, and white. Throughout my research on the climbing culture in Austin I seek to discover what features of the sport lend themselves to appealing to such a particular demographic, and through ethnographic methods, in-depth interviews, and participant observation, I gain insight on their motivations. Additionally, climbing offers a peculiar mixture of pain, injury, and potential for serious injury, yet climbers see is as a "stress reliever." Throughout this thesis, I seek to discover how climbers manage this apparent contradiction, and what their participation in the sport can tell us about other aspects of their social existence.

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