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This paper examines the potential of social theory for enhancing researcher reflexivity and praxis in the ethnographic field. More specifically, we advocate the potential of feminist interpretations of Pierre Bourdieu’s concept of “regulated liberties” for helping critical ethnographers navigate some of the embodied political and ethical tensions and challenges encountered in male-dominated physical cultures. Drawing upon examples from our fieldwork in surfing and snowboarding cultures, we illustrate some of the strategies we employ to subtly subvert problematic cultural norms and values within these action sport cultures. Engaging the work of poststructural feminist and Bourdieusian scholars, we raise some of the ethical questions and concerns we have experienced as cultural members and feminist researchers while engaging with participants in the waves and on the slopes.
Olive is with School of Human Movement Studies, University of Queensland, Brisbane, Queensland, Australia. Thorpe is with the Dept. of Sport and Leisure, University of Waikato, Hamilton, New Zealand.