Struggle for Respect: Moral Orders of Alternative Sports’ Subcultures

Anni Rannikko

In Finnish: Kamppailua kunnioituksesta. Vaihtoehtoliikunnan alakulttuurien moraaliset järjestykset


This research concerns youth subcultures of alternative sports and the sport-cultural changes taking place within them. The analysis covers ten relatively new types of sport, which I have conceptualised as subcultures of alternative sports. I analyse the moral orders and hierarchies constructed in the games taking place in the fields of alternative sports. The research is ethnographic, and the data consists of participant observation, interviews, and online survey answers. I have analysed the data from the point of view of intersectionality, focusing especially on gender.

The most important moral orders of alternative sports are a demand for the equal right to public space and a call for a culture of mutual respect. On the one hand, these orders define who has the chance to belong to the subcultures of alternative sports; on the other hand, they are used to justify the hierarchies within those subcultures. Through the moral orders, alternative sports subcultures indicate the sport-cultural phenomena that they define as unwanted and unwelcome. These are, for instance, exclusion, competition, discrimination, and hierarchies. Moreover, the demand for respect reveals the inequality and exclusion present in the public space. Young people who practise alternative sports construct their moral orders in society where social relations based on respect are not self-evident.

Keywords: sport, equality, subcultures, youth culture