Adventure and Risk

  • Simon Beames
  • Chris Mackie
  • Matthew Atencio


After reading this chapter, you will be able to:
  • Define the terms risk and hazard

  • Understand how the term risk has evolved over time

  • Understand ten factors that are behind most people’s motivations for participating in adventure practices

  • Explain why extreme adventurers do not generally regard themselves as risk-takers

  • Explain how playing ‘close to the edge’ may bring more recognition within adventure subcultures

  • Understand the problems associated with providing adventure activities perceived as risky to groups with varying backgrounds and needs

Key Readings

  1. Langseth, T. (2012). B.A.S.E. jumping – Beyond the thrills. European Journal for Sport and Society, 9(3), 155–176.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Lyng, S. (1990). Edgework: A social psychological analysis of voluntary risk taking. American Journal of Sociology, 95, 851–856.CrossRefGoogle Scholar


  1. Atencio, M., Beal, B., & Wilson, C. (2009). The distinction of risk: Urban skateboarding, street habitus and the construction of hierarchical gender relations. Qualitative Research in Sport and Exercise, 1(1), 3–20.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Beames, S., & Brown, M. (2016). Adventurous learning. New York: Routledge.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Beck, U. (1992). Risk society: Towards a new modernity. London: Sage.Google Scholar
  4. Bicknell, K. (2016). Equipment, innovation and the mountain biker’s taskscape. In H. Thorpe & R. Olive (Eds.), Women in action sport cultures: Identity, politics and experience (pp. 237–258). London: Palgrave Macmillan.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Booth, D., & Thorpe, H. (2007). The meaning of extreme. In D. Booth & H. Thorpe (Eds.), Berkshire encyclopedia of extreme sports (pp. 181–197). Great Barrington, MA: Berkshire.Google Scholar
  6. Bourdieu, P. (1979/1984). Distinction (trans: Nice, R.). Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.Google Scholar
  7. Boyd, J. (2012). Lifestyle climbing: Toward existential authenticity. Journal of Sport & Tourism, 17(2), 85–104.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Brymer, E. (2005). Extreme dude: A phenomenological exploration into the extreme sport experience. PhD Thesis, Faculties of Education and Psychology, University of Wollongong. Retrieved from
  9. Brymer, E. (2010). Risk taking in extreme sports: A phenomenological perspective. Annals of Leisure Research, 13(1–2), 218–238.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Brymer, E., & Davids, K. (2014). Experiential learning as a constraints-led process: An ecological dynamics perspective. Journal of Adventure Education and Outdoor Learning, 14(2), 103–117.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Brymer, E., & Gray, T. (2009). Dancing with nature: Rhythm and harmony in extreme sport participation. Journal of Adventure Education and Outdoor Learning, 9(2), 135–149.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Brymer, E., & Oades, L. G. (2009). Extreme sports: A positive transformation in courage and humility. Journal of Humanistic Psychology, 41(1), 114–126.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Brymer, E., & Schweitzer, R. (2017). Phenomenology and the extreme sport experience. New York: Routledge.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Buckley, R. (2012). Rush as a key motivation in skilled adventure tourism: Resolving the risk recreation paradox. Tourism Management, 33, 961–970.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Carpenter, C., & Harper, N. (2015). Health and wellbeing benefits of activities in the outdoors. In B. Humberstone, H. Price, & K. Henderson (Eds.), Routledge international handbook of outdoor studies (pp. 59–69). Oxon, UK: Routledge.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Cater, C. (2006). Playing with risk? Participant perceptions of risk and management implications in adventure tourism. Tourism Management, 27, 317–325.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. CNN. (2016). American deaths in terrorism vs. gun violence in one graph. Retrieved from,
  18. Coates, E., Clayton, B., & Humberstone, B. (2010). A battle for control: Exchanges of power in the subculture of snowboarding. Sport in Society, 13(7–8), 1082–1101.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Cziksentmihalyi, M. (1975). Beyond boredom and anxiety. San Francisco: Jossey- Bass.Google Scholar
  20. Elias, N., & Dunning, E. (1986). Quest for excitement in leisure. In N. Elias & E. Dunning (Eds.), Quest for excitement: Sport and leisure in the civilizing process (pp. 63–90). Oxford, UK: Basil Blackwell.Google Scholar
  21. Elliot, A., & Urry, J. (2010). Mobile lives. Abingdon, UK: Routledge.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Evers, C. (2009). ‘The point’: Surfing, geography and a sensual life of men and masculinity on the Gold Coast, Australia. Social & Cultural Geography, 10(8), 893–908.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Fletcher, R. (2008). Living on the edge: The appeal of risk sports for the professional middle class. Sociology of Sport Journal, 25(3), 1–23.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Fletcher, R. (2010). The emperor’s new adventure: Public secrecy and the paradox of adventure tourism. Journal of Contemporary Ethnography, 39(1), 6–33.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Furedi, F. (1997). Culture of fear: Risk-taking and the morality of low expectation. London: Cassell.Google Scholar
  26. Gibson, J. (1979). The ecological approach to visual perception. Boston: Houghton Mifflin.Google Scholar
  27. Giddens, A. (1991). Modernity and self identity. Cambridge, UK: Polity Press.Google Scholar
  28. Honnold, A. (2015). Alone on the wall: Alex Honnold and the ultimate limits of adventure. New York: Macmillan.Google Scholar
  29. Humberstone, B. (2011). Embodiment and social and environmental action in nature-based sport: Spiritual spaces. Leisure Studies, 30(4), 495–512.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Humberstone, B. (2013). Adventurous activities, embodiment and nature: Spiritual, sensual and sustainable? Embodying environmental justice. Motriz: Revista De Educacao Fisica, 19(3), 565–571.Google Scholar
  31. Immonen, T., Brymer, E., Orth, D., Davids, K., Feletti, F., Liukkonen, J., et al. (2017). Understanding action and adventure sports participation – An ecological dynamics perspective. Sports Medicine - Open, 3(1), 18.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Kane, M. (2012). Professional adventure tourists: Producing and selling stories of ‘authentic’ identity. Tourist Studies, 12(3), 268–286.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Langseth, T. (2011). Risk sports: Social constraints and cultural imperatives. Sport in Society, 14(5), 629–644.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Langseth, T. (2012). B.A.S.E. jumping – Beyond the thrills. European Journal for Sport and Society, 9(3), 155–176.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Laurendeau, J. (2006). ‘He didn’t go in doing a sky dive’: Sustaining the illusion of control over an edgework activity. Sociological Perspectives, 49(4), 583–605.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Loynes, C. (1998). Adventure in a bun. The Journal of Experimental Education, 21(1), 35–39.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Lupton, D. (2013). Risk (2nd ed.). London: Routledge.Google Scholar
  38. Lyng, S. (1990). Edgework: A social psychological analysis of voluntary risk taking. American Journal of Sociology, 95, 851–856.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Lyng, S. (2005). Edgework: The sociology of risk-taking. New York: Routledge.Google Scholar
  40. Martínková, I., & Parry, J. (2017). Safe danger: On the experience of challenge, adventure and risk in education. Sport, Ethics and Philosophy, 11(1), 75–91.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Miles, B., & Wattchow, B. (2015). The mirror of the sea: Narrative identity, sea kayak adventuring and implications for outdoor adventure education. Australian Journal of Outdoor Education, 18(1), 16–26.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Peacock, S., Brymer, E., Davids, K., & Dillon, M. (2017). An ecological dynamics perspective on adventure tourism. Tourism Review International, 21(3), 307–316.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. Reddy, S. (1996). Claims to expert knowledge and the subversion of democracy: The triumph of risk over uncertainty. Economy and Society, 25(2), 222–254.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. Roser, M. (n.d.). Our world in data. Retrieved from
  45. Rossi, B., & Cereatti, L. (1993). The sensation seeking in mountain athletes as assessed by Zuckerman’s sensation seeking scale. International Journal of Sport Psychology, 24, 417–431.Google Scholar
  46. Wheaton, B. (2004). Understanding lifestyle sports: Consumption, identity, and difference. London: Routledge.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  47. Wheaton B. The cultural politics of lifestyle sports. Abingdon: Routledge; 2013.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  48. Wolfe, T. (1979). The right stuff. New York: Farrar, Straus, and Giroux.Google Scholar
  49. Young, N., DaRosa, V., & Lapointe, J. (2011). On the origins of late modernity: Environmentalism and the construction of a critical global consciousness. ANTROPOlógicas, 12, 2–8.Google Scholar
  50. Zuckerman, M. (1994). Behavioral expressions and biosocial bases of sensation seeking. New York: Cambridge Press.Google Scholar
  51. Zuckerman, M. (2000). Are you a risk taker? Psychology Today, November/December, 130.Google Scholar
  52. Zuckerman, M. (2007). Sensation-seeking and risky behaviour. Washington, DC: American Psychological Association.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Simon Beames
    • 1
  • Chris Mackie
    • 2
  • Matthew Atencio
    • 3
  1. 1.University of EdinburghEdinburghUK
  2. 2.University of the Highlands and IslandsInvernessUK
  3. 3.California State University East BayHaywardUSA

Personalised recommendations