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Media, Mountain Culture and the Identity Politics of Risk Recreation: A Media Discourse Analysis of Snowmobiling Avalanche Deaths in Western Canada Open Access


Other title
identity politics
risk recreation
media discourse analysis
avalanche accidents
Type of item
Degree grantor
University of Alberta
Author or creator
Flaherty, Erin J
Supervisor and department
McDermott, Lisa (Physical Education and Recreation)
Examining committee member and department
Robinson, Zac (Physical Education and Recreation)
Trimble, Linda (Political Science)
Fox, Karen (Physical Education and Recreation)
Physical Education and Recreation

Date accepted
Graduation date
Master of Arts
Degree level
Avalanche accidents involving backcountry snowmobilers are on the rise in Canada (CAC, 2012a). The 2008-09 and 2009-10 winter seasons were marked by two devastating accidents near Sparwood and Revelstoke, British Columbia, that resulted in multiple fatalities and garnered widespread media coverage. Using a cross-case comparison, this study provides a media discourse analysis (Sampert & Trimble, 2010) of selected newspapers’ coverage of the two avalanches. More specifically, it examines how the media depicted “risk” and “liability” in their framing of the snowmobiling accidents and how these representations, in turn, intersected with social and regional identity. The findings suggest that social and regional identity discourses operated to construct diverging depictions of “risk” and “liability” in the media’s sense-making of the two avalanches. The produced effects included undermining accident prevention efforts, homogenizing diverse and hybridized identities and reproducing risk and gender ideologies that positioned men as naturally risk-seeking while further marginalizing women/femininity in backcountry mountain settings and adventure recreation contexts.
Permission is hereby granted to the University of Alberta Libraries to reproduce single copies of this thesis and to lend or sell such copies for private, scholarly or scientific research purposes only. Where the thesis is converted to, or otherwise made available in digital form, the University of Alberta will advise potential users of the thesis of these terms. The author reserves all other publication and other rights in association with the copyright in the thesis and, except as herein before provided, neither the thesis nor any substantial portion thereof may be printed or otherwise reproduced in any material form whatsoever without the author's prior written permission.
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