Equilibrium Poems: An ethnographic study on how experiences in and with Norwegian friluftsliv challenge and nurture youths’ emotion work in everyday life.
Doctoral thesis, Peer reviewed
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Denne doktoravhandlingen er foreløpig ikke tilgjengelig i elektronisk format. Den kan lånes i trykt format på Norges idrettshøgskoles bibliotek. / This Ph.D.-thesis is not available in electronic format at the moment. The thesis can be borrowed in print format from the Library at the Norwegian School of Sport Sciences. -------- In general, sports, friluftsliv and leisure time activities are widely perceived as both the means to and as spheres of human interaction, integration and social mobility, involving the promotion of physical and mental well-being. With the point of departure in psychologically-oriented anthropology, I explore how minority youth experience friluftsliv through an outdoor education center here presented as Mimo, based in Oslo, Norway. Friluftsliv is a Norwegian term that defines certain ways of being in the outdoors, in terms of recreation and leisure. Mimo offers free activities for children and youth in the inner-city neighborhoods, with the anticipation of leveling out living conditions in the city. Following Mimo and its participants over the course of two years, emotions as part of identity work, especially in connection with (national and peer) belonging, as well as social inequality, became central with regard to the Mimo youth’s efforts to balance the different lifeworlds on offer. In addition, their relations to – and comprehension of – friluftsliv in Oslo and Norway became central themes in the study. Observing participants’ interactions with and in nature brought everyday emotion work to the fore. This study reveals youth fighting for and resisting different forms of emotional belonging, both to places and people. Both a fear and yearning for social death emerge in the attempt to socialize these urban youths into a national-identity ideology, which is bound up with time spent in nature. In Norway, both politicians and many researchers present friluftsliv as an important means to achieving better public health and enhancing environmental sustainability. The way to achieve this, it is argued, starts through offering children and youth “green valleys” in which to grow. Against the backdrop of a Norwegian friluftsliv metanarrative, Equilibrium Poems challenges this generalized vision with empirical material that sheds light on skin color and identity in novel ways. The dissertation provides new insights on urban minority youth and friluftsliv in Norway. This is achieved through a person-centered approach, opening for a focus on the Mimo youths’ selves and their subjective meetings with friluftsliv, places and people. With the point of departure in participant observation, thus in “shared” experiences with the youth, I have employed the terms emotional belonging and social death. The terms grew out of and are visualized through analyzes of how youth struggle to make room for their own desires without breaking the social and moral codes laid down by people important to them.
Avhandling (doktorgrad) - Norges idrettshøgskole, 2018