‘It’s not something I’m proud of but it’s … just how I feel’: local surfer perspectives of localism
Taylor & Francis
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This article focuses on a defining concept of modern surfing: localism. Using a qualitative ethnographic approach, the data for this study were collected using participant observation, field notes and interviews between 2008 and 2009 with a significant population of local surfers in a village location in Cornwall, South West of England, UK. Developing Bennett’s definition of localism, data suggested a benign form of localism and in conveying this, we make a number of associated observations. Our analysis considers how a process of Othering led to the construction of Established Insiders based primarily on location, rather than gender. These Established Insiders saw the need to protect their community and its way of life from Outsiders. The focal point for protection was the liminal space/phase that opened up on ‘their’ local waves, as it was through temporal space that communitas was generated and thus community sustained. We illustrate how benign localism was exacerbated by overcrowding and how local surfers’ experiences of localism made them aware of their becoming Outsiders in other surfing localities, modifying their behaviour accordingly. The paper also suggests that debates about localism need to view the concept as a continuum of attitudes and behaviours ranging from the benign to the heavy, and that attention needs paying to how localism varies between contexts and the ways in which localism may share social antecedents. Lastly, we highlight the utility of viewing the beach and wave as liminal spaces that give rise to communitas for those who surf it together regularly.
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