Risk Seeking in the Risk Society: Explaining Involvement in Edgework

Peter Mascini, PHJ Achterberg, D Houtman

Research output: Contribution to conferenceConference contributionAcademic


Why does voluntary participation in dangerous leisure activities requiring skills (‘edgework’) thrive in societies preoccupied with safety and security? Lyng (1990) assumes edgework constitutes an anti-institutionalist escape from alienating working conditions in capitalist economies. Although, this is indeed the manner in which athletes themselves motivate their engagement in edgework, it is actually not a real reason for them to do so, according to Fletcher (2008). Instead, edgework supposedly provides an arena for the accumulation and display of cultural capital appropriate to members of the professional middle class. We refute the former hypothesis and validate the latter one based on a survey of a representative sample of Dutch citizens (N=1,302). Edgework cannot be explained by either anti-institutionalism or perceived alienation, while the professional middle class is overrepresented in it. This suggests that although edgeworkers resist the risk society in name, they in fact reproduce its underlying stratified class structure by investing in the symbolic capital needed to sustain and shield their own socio-economic position.
Original languageDutch
Publication statusPublished - 23 Jan 2013
EventRisk and Uncertainty: Ontologies and Methods - Amsterdam
Duration: 23 Jan 201325 Jan 2013


ConferenceRisk and Uncertainty: Ontologies and Methods

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