Nikolaus Dean MA Thesis Proposal

Title: “Breaking the ‘silence’: An exploration of concussion in Canadian surf culture”

Supervisor: Dr. Andrea Bundon (Kinesiology)
Committee Members: Dr. Brian Wilson (Kinesiology), Dr. Moss Norman (Kinesiology)

Abstract: This research explores how the complex brain injury of concussion is understood, constructed, perceived, and responded to in the lifestyle sport of surfing (Wheaton, 2004). While the injury of concussion has been analyzed and researched from the disciplines of psychology, sensorimotor physiology, and neurology—little to no research has been conducted on concussion using a sociological perspective. This interview-driven study will diverge from previous literature, by exploring the ways in which both male and female members of the unstructured, unmanaged, and unregulated lifestyle sport of surfing, come to understand, construct, make decisions about, and conceptualize ideas of risk, gender, concussion, and one’s health within the ethos of surf culture. This study has the potential to add a nuanced perspective and understanding to the ways in which concussion has been (traditionally) understood within sport culture, and has the potential to yield significant and substantive information on the ways in which socio-cultural aspects, such as gender and perceptions of risk could affect the ways that surfers come to understand concussion within Canadian surf culture. Moreover, this study has the potential to fill a number of large theoretical gaps in both concussion and lifestyle sport literature, and will add to the expanding qualitative research that is being done on concussion within a sporting milieu.