Reappraising the Birmingham School

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  • Title: Reappraising the Birmingham School: The Escapist Roots of Skateboarding Subculture
  • Author(s): Dax D'Orazio
  • Publisher: Common Ground Research Networks
  • Collection: Common Ground Research Networks
  • Series: Sport & Society
  • Journal Title: The International Journal of Sport and Society
  • Keywords: Skateboarding, Subculture, Birmingham School, Resistance, “Vice,” Patrick O’Dell, “Epicly Later’d”
  • Volume: 8
  • Issue: 4
  • Date: November 15, 2017
  • ISSN: 2152-7857 (Print)
  • ISSN: 2152-7865 (Online)
  • DOI:
  • Citation: D'Orazio, Dax. 2017. "Reappraising the Birmingham School: The Escapist Roots of Skateboarding Subculture." The International Journal of Sport and Society 8 (4): 19-39. doi:10.18848/2152-7857/CGP/v08i04/19-39.
  • Extent: 21 pages

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Although skateboarding has a history of attracting peripheral individuals looking to create alternative forms of meaning, contemporary sport sociology had tended to emphasize skateboarding subculture’s diversity and the fluid or contradictory identities of its participants. This theoretical tendency is largely a reflection of the discarding of class-based analysis in social theory, most significantly from the Birmingham School (or Centre for Contemporary Cultural Studies). However, a focus on heterogeneity, diversity, fluidity, and hybridity may obscure some of the particularities of the subculture and the collective meanings derived from seemingly innocuous social practices. This ultimately inhibits a better understanding of what attracted participants to the subculture in the first place and how skateboarding’s most celebrated personalities came to shape the contours of the subculture. Taking advantage of a bustling contemporary online skateboard media landscape—specifically, using Patrick O’Dell’s “Epicly Later’d” mini biographical documentary series from “Vice”—this article argues that an intimate look at some of the most influential skateboarding legends should prompt a reappraisal of resistance-based (sport) subcultural studies.