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Waves of power. The spectacularisation of professional surfing

Pill, Elliot 2019. Waves of power. The spectacularisation of professional surfing. PhD Thesis, Cardiff University.
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Abstract

This thesis seeks to outline new paradigms in the field of Critical Surf Studies applying critical theory to the systems of power used in the privatisation of professional surfing. In 2013, a private company, ZoSea Media Holdings (ZMH), assumed control of the Association of Surfing Professionals (ASP) and began a rationalisation process of the sport. This culminated in the creation of a re-imagined vision for the commercialisation of elite, professional surfing with the invention of the World Surf League (WSL) in 2015. Using Guy Debord’s theory of The Society of the Spectacle as a lens through which to critically examine this transformation, the research adopts an experimental, qualitative research approach, combining data gathered through lived experiences, auto-ethnographies and key figure interviews. The central research questions ask; what does ZMH mean in seeking to professionalise surfing? How is professional surfing reified under monopoly and private ownership? What does this ownership mean for the wider culture of surfing? The key findings indicate little resistance to ZMH’s global vision for surfing. The findings further identify a range of new media systems of power used to create a new spectacular surfing society. In branding the WSL as the self-styled ‘Home of Global Surfing’, these systems include wholly-owned digital media platforms and the construction of sophisticated marketing and promotional practices to meet the owners’ political, economic and cultural objectives. These findings build on, and contribute to, previous work in this field examining the governance and hegemony of surfing. These processes have implications for the way in which lifestyle sports are appropriated, re-packaged and commodified by capitalist owners seeking to gain profit from the commercialisation of sport.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Date Type: Completion
Status: Unpublished
Schools: Journalism, Media and Culture
Subjects: G Geography. Anthropology. Recreation > GV Recreation Leisure
H Social Sciences > H Social Sciences (General)
Date of First Compliant Deposit: 4 November 2019
Date of Acceptance: 4 November 2019
Last Modified: 11 Jun 2020 10:50
URI: http://orca-mwe.cf.ac.uk/id/eprint/126546

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