Identity Construction Beyond the obvious benefit of being different from ones

Identity construction beyond the obvious benefit of

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Identity Construction.Beyondtheobvious benefitof being different from one's everyday peers, whichisprovidedbymakingasingle skydive, sustained partic-ipationin ahigh-risk subculture offerstheopportunityto constructa "new"personal identity (Belk1988;Schouten 1991).Ineveryday existence, we are born intoa specific sociocultural situationandproceed throughlife making determining choices based largelyon un-certain informationandsometimes unclear goals. Asaresult,weoften arriveat ouradult identityasmuchbycircumstanceas bychoice. Moreover,it isdifficulttochange jobs, social status,or oursocial identities onceour adult rolesareachieved.In contrast, high-risk activities provideawell-definedcontextforpersonal change, as well asaclear-cut meansto organizea new, andsometimes central, identity(Markus and Nurius 1986). For example, rites of passageare concreteandclearly evident, with specific guidelinesand requirementsfortheir attainment.Theinitiateob-serves that what one is or doesinthe outside world doesnot pertain withinthehigh-risk community. Rewardsof privilegeandstatusaredirectandattainable witheffort. Aboveall, one isrecognizedforone's overallmastery. Through long-term active participation,onebecomesaskydiver,in alargely meritorious society.The desiretocreateanew identity also helps explaina participant's driveforachievementandmastery.Identity construction requires commitmentto a newsetoflife tasks with concrete plansandstrategiesofimplementation (Cantoret al.1986).Thepathtoachievementiscarefully scripted with well-understoodbenchmarksforevaluationofperformance. Thesenewlife tasksareclosely linkedtoparticipants' cognitiverepresentations of the possible selves they seek (Markusand Nurius 1986). Thus,thepromiseofanewidentityalso providesapowerful motivefor acommitmenttomasteryofhigh-risk activities.Transcendent Motivation: Flow,Communitas,andPhatic CommunionWith increased involvement, propertiesofhigh-riskmotivation become increasingly abstractandtranscendnormal experience (Celsi 1992).Weorganize thesetranscendent motives intothefollowing categories:(1)individual heightened experience,or"flow" (Csiksz-entmihalyi 1975), (2) transcendent group camaraderie,or "communitas" (Turner1969;TurnerandTurner1978),and(3) special communication,or"phatic com-munion" (Fishman1960;Malinowski1923;Whorf1940).These concepts underliethesenseofcommunityand special identity that definestheskydiving subcul-ture.Flow.Informants describetheskydivingact as oneof total absorption that provides themnotonly withthrillandexcitement,butalsoasenseofinvolvementthat transcends mundane experience. When asked whythey skydive, they invariablysay"becauseit's fun."When pressed, they collectively respond that nothingelse existsintheir worldbutthat moment itself—nosense oftime,justakind of holistic oneness that makesthem feel goodandsomehow changed.
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  • Summer '16
  • Patrice Maurison
  • 1984, dz, Parachuting, high-risk activities, dramatic model, skydivers, high-risk consumption

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