“Communicating Adventure”\ud A Semiotic Investigation of the UK Adventure Subculture of\ud Motorcycling Consumption
Ghurbal, Victoria A.
Changing cultural trends and increasing pressures and constraints on everyday life\ud have led to a proliferation in the uptake of adventure pursuits in Western society.\ud People are increasingly drawn to involvement in subcultures of high-risk extremity\ud and adventure, and manufacturers, marketers and the media are commonly reflecting a\ud discourse that ‘commodifies’ adventure experience in their wider cultural products\ud and brands. This growth in the consumption of adventure has created an opportunity,\ud and a necessity, for researchers, academics and practitioners alike to become involved\ud in the development of adventure-leisure research and theory.\ud This study takes the UK motorcycling subculture of adventure consumption as a unit\ud of analysis, and employs a ‘holistic’ cultural approach to investigate meaningful\ud consumption processes within, and relative to it. Specifically, it focuses on the role of\ud consumers in contributing to the cultural world of motorcycling adventure\ud consumption as well as the significance of manufacturers, service suppliers and\ud marketers in producing and conveying it.\ud This is achieved through employment of an ‘interpretive semiology’ research\ud philosophy, in which a number of pioneering semiotic and narrative techniques are\ud used and developed, to identify the key communication codes and myths that drive the\ud construction and movement of meaning within, and relative to this consumption\ud subculture.\ud An ‘outside in’ approach is employed to understand the subculture from a wide crosssection\ud of related discourse, and this is combined with an ‘inside-out’ approach,\ud which focuses on the motorcyclist consumer psyche, on consumer involvement in\ud motorcycling activity and use of signifying props, spaces and stories for the\ud construction and signification of meaningful motorcyclist self-identity. Also this\ud approach examines the role of manufacturers, service suppliers and marketers in\ud constructing and signifying brands that purvey cultural messages and construct\ud categories of motorcycling subculture.\ud The results highlight that although UK motorcycling adventure subculture is\ud enshrined with a very rich cultural heritage, it is dynamic in nature, and cultural\ud changes can be identified by analysis of key cultural communication codes and myths.\ud These codes and myths are influenced, and driven, by an interrelationship that exists\ud between consumers, manufacturers, service suppliers, marketers and wider popular\ud cultural discourse and media. They all exist in the same culturally constituted world\ud and meaning is generated and signified through common market places and market\ud stimuli.\ud Overall, this study provides a contribution to adventure-leisure and interpretive,\ud cultural consumer behaviour research and it employs and develops pioneering\ud semiotic and narrative methodologies. It demonstrates how the field of semiotics,\ud with rich theoretical and sometimes complicated underpinnings, can be applied in this\ud context to achieve significant theoretical and practical implications.