Social Construction of Skateboarding Today: An Ambivalent Battle for Identity

Ophir Sefiha, Northern Arizona University

My research explores the construction of skateboarding as a social problem. Through the use of ethnographic research methods, I consider the dialectical relationship between labeling skateboarding as a social problem and the representation fo skateboarders as 'deviant' subculture. I then investigate how this deviant label influences skaters' perception of both themselves as well as serving to inform those who label them. By drawing in larger social issues of appropriate use of public space, generational conflict, private property and media representations, I situate my research firmly within a post-modern, ethnographic, and constructionist tradition. I also examine how self-identified skateboarders view their own skateboarding within the context of society's changing definitions of youth culture. More specifically, my research will inform three primary considerations: 1) the internal construction of skater identity. That is, what phenomena contribute to an individual's personal identity formation? 2) The external, social construction of skateboarding. how is skateboarding (and thus skateboarders) deffined and redefined by societal influences such as media? 3) Construction of skateboarding as a social problem. How does skateboarding become identified as deviant, as a social problem, and as something that needs to be controlled?

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Updated 05/20/2006