A Structural Analysis of Personal Outdoor Recreation Narratives: A Study on Risk Evaluation and Alleviation


Lori LeeFollow

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In 1852, when it was determined that Mount Everest was the highest peak in the world, the minds of adventurers starting imagining the possible ascent of this geographic pinnacle. It wasn't until 1921, when the King of Tibet finally opened the boarders of the country, that anyone could make the attempt. Thirteen lives were lost before the successful summit in 1953. These mountaineers were the first of what has become a modern day mainstream culture revolving around outdoor recreation. When the decline of the agrarian lifestyle moved over for the industrial age, leisure time was suddenly available to the general populace. One faction that developed was the pursuit of play and challenge within nature, namely: mountain biking, hiking, white water rafting/kayaking, rock climbing, mountaineering, etc., all termed by Davidson and Stebins (Serious Leisure and Nature 2011) as nature challenge activities (NCAs). This paper looks specifically at the autobiographical narratives of this folk group and the structural role risk plays in their narratives. I further explore how these participants evaluate and alleviate risk: both calculable and uncontrollable. By looking closely at the effect of risk perception on an individual folk group, we gain a larger understanding of the role risk perception plays within larger communities and cross culturally as we deal with risk in all forms of humanness. My researching methods include first-hand field work, including collecting autobiographical narratives, as well as interviews with careful recording of texture and context as currently practiced in the field of folklore. The paper shares the analysis of the findings of this research.

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