Title page for ETD etd-09302008-125706

Document Type Master's Dissertation
Author Potgieter, Stephan Andries
Email arcteryx26@gmail.com
URN etd-09302008-125706
Document Title Exploring rock climbing discourses
Degree Master of Arts
Department Psychology
Advisor Name Title
Dr L H Human Supervisor
  • discursive resources
  • discursive strategies
  • context
  • action
  • social constructionism discourse
  • sport psychology
  • discursive analysis
  • discursive psychology
  • interaction
  • talk
  • discourse
  • sport climbing
  • rock climbing
Date 2007-09-05
Availability unrestricted
Climbing has been part of human nature since time immemorial, our ancestors used it to escape predators, to flee from flooding valleys, to gather food and to move to new territories. However it was not until the middle 1700s that man started to use climbing not as a means to ensure survival, but as a source of pleasure and desire to climb and explore.

For almost two centuries climbing has evolved through, what has often been referred to as a trial and error method, into a state of the art, modern day sport with various sub disciplines like sport climbing, trad - climbing, ice climbing, free climbing and bouldering. In its purest form it is one of the most awe inspiring sports to watch and take part in, and for those select few that dedicate their lives to it, it is a means to make a living, and a way to live on into eternity.

Over the past 15 years climbing has become a widely practised and one of the fastest growing sports around the world, and is practised by people from all walks of life, from pre-primary school children right through to retired pensioners, from unemployed students to the most successful business men and women. With this growing interest among the population there also came a growing interest in the use of climbing for various other purposes like psycho-therapy, rehabilitation, team building. But more importantly, for this study, it has urged the researcher to ask what are the discursive resources and strategies that are employed by modern day climbers, seeing as the climbing community consists of such a large variety of people.

This study was done from a Discursive Psychology perspective, and was strongly influenced by the work of Jonathan Potter and Derek Edwards, as well as the work of the Rhetoric Group from Loughborough University.

The Discursive Psychology approach focuses on management and accomplishment of action and interaction through talk. Discourse is viewed as a resource that functions to accomplish action and Discursive Analysis focuses on the manner that discursive resources are being employed to achieve certain actions in interaction.

For Discursive Psychology it is important to view both the material context and embodiment as important in the construction of action. So too in Rock Climbing are these two aspects very important and very relevant because of the prominence of physical activity in the sport. The research focused on how climbers talk during climbing and what discursive resources and strategies they employ during rock climbing discourses. The most prominent of these resources and strategies that were found in the analysis were laughter, pauses and delays, intensifiers ( words that are used to emphasize and pinpoint other words), loud uttering of words, change-of-state tokens, disclaimers, discourse markers, extreme case formulations, agreement-implicative acknowledgement tokens, hedge words / devices, speech-overlapping, previous experiences, and footing.

This research hopes to offer alternative explanations in sport and psychology, by studying naturally occurring conversations between climbers, instead of the more traditional pre and post experience testing that has dominated studies in psychology for so long.

University of Pretoria 2006


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