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Governing bodies or managing freedom? Subcultural struggles, national sport systems and the glocalised institutionalisation of parkour


Sterchele, D. & Ferrero Camoletto, R.



International Journal of Sport Policy

Publication type

Artículo de revista




Lifestyle sports, institutionalisation, authenticity, teaching/coaching qualifications, glocalisation, Italian sport system


Whilst being the world’s fastest growing informal sport, parkour is also undergoing a gradual institutionalisation which is shaped differently by each national context’s specific sport system. We investigate this glocalised process by examining the subcultural tensions and power struggles it generates within the Italian parkour community. Whereas in other countries parkour practitioners (the so-called traceur/traceuses) have managed to gain public recognition by forming a specific and independent National Governing Body, in Italy they are gradually affiliating with different Sport Promotion Bodies (Enti di Promozione Sportiva), the distinctive umbrella organisations which compete for the provision of sport-for-all within the country. Through a qualitative mixed-method approach based on focus groups, individual interviews and the analysis of ethnographic and documentary material, we explore the institutionalisation of Italian parkour by focusing on the controversies surrounding the introduction of teaching standards and qualifications, which is becoming a battlefield for competing authenticity claims based on different visions and interpretations of parkour. Our study shows how sport policymakers become influential agents in this authentication process and calls for future comparative analysis of their role in the local re-contextualisation of highly globalised practices.


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