Life on the rocks : environmental perceptions of the rock crawlers, a western American recreational community

Neal, J. David (James David) (1999) Life on the rocks : environmental perceptions of the rock crawlers, a western American recreational community. Doctoral (PhD) thesis, Memorial University of Newfoundland.

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    Available under License - The author retains copyright ownership and moral rights in this thesis. Neither the thesis nor substantial extracts from it may be printed or otherwise reproduced without the author's permission.
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Abstract

In the contemporary American west many communities vie for (and share) public lands. This text studies one of these groups, Rock Crawlers, who are automotive enthusiasts that (re)construct their 4-wheel drive vehicles to pilot them over trails winding through these spaces. They enter these lands to enjoy their beauty, push their driving skills in an arduous terrain, and to seek refuge from negative attributes they believe are inherent to the urban milieu. These places- dubbed the “outback-are socially created, carved from their surrounding non-urban environment through the existence of mentally held maps. These maps, superimposed over the terrain like a blanket, are comprised of special outback locations such as challenges, aberrations in the terrain, or culturally-relevant historical sites. -- This text studies how these values are reflected through the form of the 4x4s used to venture into these ideologically laden outback places. Interaction with the landscape on a personal level engenders morphological reconfigurations in the vehicles, as drivers make them compatible with the harsh environments where they are used. Even aesthetic modifications-paint, chrome and accessories-to the 4x4s hinge on values concerning the nature and significance of the outback. -- Places so imbued with meaning necessitate special activities. This is because they are liminal, or Other than the locations of normal daily life. Although outback lands are entered for ritual and recreation, they maintain their special nature through adhesion to strictly maintained and performed rules of “off-road etiquette." As such, outback activities take on ritual status; they become more than play or diversion; they become a metaphor for life, showing participants what it means to be productive members of one's family, social group, or society.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral (PhD))
URI: http://research.library.mun.ca/id/eprint/1233
Item ID: 1233
Additional Information: Bibliography: leaves [478]-495.
Department(s): Humanities and Social Sciences, Faculty of > Folklore
Date: 1999
Date Type: Submission
Geographic Location: West United States
Library of Congress Subject Heading: Four-wheel driving--West (U.S.); Mountains--West (U.S.)--Recreational use; Automobiles--Off-road operation--West (U.S.); Landscape assessment--West (U.S.); Hobbyists--West (U.S.)

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