Ghurbal, Victoria A. (2008) “Communicating Adventure” A Semiotic Investigation of the UK Adventure Subculture of Motorcycling Consumption. Doctoral thesis, University of Huddersfield.

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


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