AbstractsWomens Studies

Women's Stories of Joy in the Outdoors

by Anne Patricia Dignan

Institution: University of Otago
Year: 0
Keywords: outdoor recreation; outdoor adventure; women's experience; risk; adventure; positive emotional experience; joy
Record ID: 1306249
Full text PDF: http://hdl.handle.net/10523/5274


While outdoor experiences, particularly those involving risk and or activity, are highly valorised and valued we know little about the subject of joy in the outdoors. This study makes inroads into this gap in our understanding by exploring three women’s experiences of joy in the outdoors and grappling with the varied meanings from these stories. Methodologically this study acknowledges the role that narrative/story has in how we know, live and recount our lives. It draws upon my own experience of the outdoors and the women participants to re-present the women’s interview transcripts into fictional short stories. I also consider some of the conundrums of the narrative research process. The stories were analysed to draw out key themes. These themes challenge dominant views from within outdoor education and recreation literature and practice. In particular this study highlights; the role of simplicity in both the activity the women were engaging in and simplicity of possessions; the participants’ sense of an aesthetic in their surrounding environment; relationships with both people and animals provided a background to the women’s experience and an absence of a focus on their own bodies which is contrary to much of the historical and contemporary literature. The women’s stories reveal a number of challenges to the orthodox view of how the outdoors can be valued, experienced and participated in. These findings suggest the need to explore and offer a range of alternative ways of spending time in the outdoors to enable opportunities for positive emotional experiences such as joy. This would require subversion of the dominant discourse of risk and outdoor pursuits as the most valid and valued form of outdoor experience.