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Edgework, Uncertainty and Social Character

Mellor, Philip A., Shilling, Chris (2021) Edgework, Uncertainty and Social Character. Sociological Research Online, . ISSN 1061-0154. (doi:10.1177/13607804211002841) (KAR id:86860)

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This paper proposes a novel conceptual understanding of ‘edgework’ – a term denoting the voluntary embrace of risk - by drawing on the longstanding sociological tradition of character studies. In so doing, it addresses the paradox that while first-generation research into high-risk leisure suggested that these activities provided identity-affirming escapes from bureaucratized capitalism, second-generation writings argued that edgework exists in harmony with the norms of ‘risk societies’, raising questions about its continuing appeal. Developing a new analytical perspective with which to assess these views, we argue that the former studies should be understood in the context of challenges to ‘other-directed’ characterological forms prominent within the post-War era, while the latter signal the embodiment of edgework within emergent ‘opportunity-directed’ modalities of social character. This interpretation explains the enduring attractions of edgework alongside its changed social role, and also signals its utility as a prism through which to observe broader characterological changes.

Item Type: Article
DOI/Identification number: 10.1177/13607804211002841
Uncontrolled keywords: Edgework, social character, Riesman, risk, opportunity-direction
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HM Sociology
Divisions: Divisions > Division for the Study of Law, Society and Social Justice > School of Social Policy, Sociology and Social Research
Depositing User: Edward Skeates
Date Deposited: 02 Mar 2021 15:42 UTC
Last Modified: 04 Jul 2023 09:44 UTC
Resource URI: (The current URI for this page, for reference purposes)

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