In the increasingly popular sport of parkour, athletes run, jump, climb, flip, and vault through city streetscapes, resembling urban gymnasts to passersby and awestruck spectators. In Parkour and the City, cultural sociologist Jeffrey L. Kidder examines the ways in which this sport involves a creative appropriation of urban spaces as well as a method of everyday risk-taking by a youth culture that valorizes individuals who successfully manage danger.
Parkour’s modern development has been tied closely to the growth of the internet. The sport is inevitably a YouTube phenomenon, making it exemplary of new forms of globalized communication. Parkour’s dangerous stunts resonate, too, Kidder contends, with a neoliberal ideology that is ambivalent about risk. Moreover, as a male-dominated sport, parkour, with its glorification of strength and daring, reflects contemporary Western notions of masculinity. At the same time, Kidder writes, most athletes (known as “traceurs” or “freerunners”) reject a “daredevil” label, preferring a deliberate, reasoned hedging of bets with their own safety—rather than a “pushing the edge” ethos normally associated with extreme sports.