The Paradox of Parkour: Conformity, Resistance and Spatial Exclusion

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Drawing upon two years of ethnographic research into the spatially transgressive practice of parkour and freerunning, this chapter attempts to explain and untangle some of the contradictions that surround this popular lifestyle sport and its exclusion from our hyper-regulated cities. While the existing criminological wisdom suggests that these practices are a form of politicised resistance, this chapter positions parkour and freerunning as hyper-conformist to the underlying values of consumer capitalism and explains how late capitalism has created a contradiction for itself in which it must stoke desire for these lifestyle practices whilst also excluding their free practice from central urban spaces. Drawing on the emergent deviant leisure perspective’s interest in issues of infantilisation and adultification, this chapter explores the lifeworlds of young people who are attempting to navigate the challenges and anxieties of early adulthood. For the young people in this study, consumer capitalism’s commodification of rebellious iconography offered unique identities of ‘cool individualism’ and opportunities for flexibilised employment, while the post-industrial ‘creative city’ attempted to harness parkour’s practice, prohibitively if necessary, into approved spatial contexts under the buzzwords of ‘culture’ and ‘creativity’. Therefore, this chapter engages in a critical criminological reappraisal of issues of transgression, deviance and resistance in urban space under consumer capitalism.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationDeviant Leisure
Subtitle of host publicationCriminological Perspectives on Leisure and Harm
EditorsThomas Raymen, Oliver Smith
PublisherPalgrave Macmillan
Number of pages30
ISBN (Electronic)9783030177362
ISBN (Print)9783030177355
Publication statusPublished - 2019

Publication series

NamePalgrave Studies in Crime, Media and Culture


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