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Parkour, Gendered Power and the Politics of Identity

Part of the Global Culture and Sport Series book series (GCS)


In this chapter I explore gendered power relations in the predominantly urban- based and male-dominated activity of parkour. I draw on empirical research conducted in England, and media commentaries, including a case study of women in Iran. I highlight parkour’s unique ethos and dominant form of masculinity, illustrating that despite the male dominance, parkour appears not to embrace some central aspects of traditional sporting masculinity such as the win-at-all cost ethos, aggression, and exclusion. However despite this desire for inclusivity, and evidence of men’s attempts to involve and encourage women, for some women parkour spaces are nonetheless perceived as alienating, and all women environments have provided ‘safer’ spaces for entry. I highlight the contradictions faced by women who participate in parkour, and advocate for more extensive research that focuses on female participants experiences.


  • Female Participant
  • Action Sport
  • Dominant Discourse
  • Fitness Class
  • Masculine Identity

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  1. 1.

    The differences between free running and parkour are discussed in Wheaton (2013) and O’Loughlin (2012).

  2. 2.

    For the purposes of writing this chapter, I would like to particularly thank Mark Cooper for alerting me to Women in Iran, Alister O’Louglin for involvement in 2PK activities, and Julie Angel for generously sharing her interviews and thoughts.

  3. 3.

    Despite the focus on urban space, from the outset parkour was also practiced in the forests and fitness trail parks around Lisses (Julie Angel, correspondence, 2014).

  4. 4.

    The Yamakasi group (of parkour founders), for instance, was avid consumers of Japanese anime, manga and Western comics and graphic novels.

  5. 5.



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Wheaton, B. (2016). Parkour, Gendered Power and the Politics of Identity. In: Thorpe, H., Olive, R. (eds) Women in Action Sport Cultures. Global Culture and Sport Series. Palgrave Macmillan, London.

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  • Publisher Name: Palgrave Macmillan, London

  • Print ISBN: 978-1-137-45796-7

  • Online ISBN: 978-1-137-45797-4

  • eBook Packages: Social SciencesSocial Sciences (R0)