Author(s):Maud Hietzge (presenting)

Conference:ECER 2013, Creativity and Innovation in Educational Research

Network:06. Open Learning: Media, Environments and Cultures


Session Information

06 SES 08, Learning Architecture

Paper Session



Chair:Mart Laanpere


“Urban Traces. Parkour, Self-Mediatization and Body Knowledge”

The sociology of the body and the sociology of knowledge have something in common: the matter of body knowledge. This category has been brought up initially by Polanyi (1966) and was developed further by Berger & Luckmann, Bourdieu, Soeffner, Schatzki and others. In the last years several publications in Germany  used it as an explicit focus of sociological analysis (Hirschauer, Knoblauch, Meuser). Body knowledge doesn’t indicate knowledge about the body (e. g. medical), and it implicates much more than mere craft knowing how (Ryle). The complex framework integrates intuition, construction of the world, sensual integration, unconscious adaptations, subjectivation, social meta-commentaries etc. Here, the phenomenological category of the lived body and the neurological term embodiment concept can be integrated (Nöe, Gallagher & Zahavi).

The case of Parkour can be used to revisit trendy sport theory (Schwier, Lamprecht & Stamm, Wopp, Breuer). Trendsport theory has not been developed especially for the explanation of Parkour. Partly the theory has to be revised in contact with the glocal movement of Parkour and its variations (Freerunning, Tricking, Parcouring). Parkour and the self-mediatization of sportive youth cultures make clear that there is a constantly shifting popular culture that makes enacted comments on urban surrounding, living conditions, social participation that affects passive recipients symbolically. The body is used as a discursive operator (Berthelot) and at the same time provides the basis for changes in identity constitution. Different variations of the scene work with different movement styles and aesthetic features in their video presentation at YouTube. Parkour in its original version implements a subversive commentary about urban city planning and regains it back to the people symbolically.

 The body knowledge of Traceures can be made explicit at least partly by the analysis of their activities, movements and performances. Urban materiality is consciously used quite different than the other passers-by use to behave.


Using the software of Feldpartitur, video sequences of different glocal Parkour styles can be compared. Classical semiotic film analysis provides with central criteria for comparison (cut, camera motion, perspective etc.). The interpretation follows the guidelines of the Documentary Method (Bohnsack, Wagner-Willi). Additionally, interviews with active athletes of Parkour Freiburg are taken into account and can be compared with other local scenes and their globalized presentations.

Expected Outcomes

The analysis of Parkour videos and interviews leads to results which fit very well in the overall shifts of the Parkour groups. Aesthetic criteria are crucial to the understanding of the bodily experience and the related philosophies. The interpretation of the data uses the category of body knowledge in a new area and shows how an enacted commentary serves different aims at once: subjectivation and social participation, subversive activities and adaptation to a postmodern urban surrounding, that is symbolically re-arranged as (virtual) paths instead of restricted areas and boundaries. In the case of Parkour the view on the city is changed even for the passive people. Informal learning is of high impact concerning the future of education in the global urban surrounding.


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Author Information

Maud Hietzge (presenting)

PH Freiburg, Germany

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