G5 Doctoral dissertation (article)
Communal pulse across media : digital networked communication and communality in recreational sport cultures (2021)

Ehrlén, V. (2021). Communal pulse across media : digital networked communication and communality in recreational sport cultures [Doctoral dissertation]. University of Jyväskylä. JYU Dissertations, 396. http://urn.fi/URN:ISBN:978-951-39-8703-9

JYU authors or editors

Publication details

All authors or editors: Ehrlén, Veera

eISBN: 978-951-39-8703-9

Journal or series: JYU Dissertations

eISSN: 2489-9003

Publication year: 2021

Number in series: 396

Number of pages in the book: 1 verkkoaineisto (82 sivua, 62 sivua useina numerointijaksoina)

Publisher: University of Jyväskylä

Place of Publication: Jyväskylä

Publication country: Finland

Publication language: English

Persistent website address: http://urn.fi/URN:ISBN:978-951-39-8703-9

Publication open access: Openly available

Publication channel open access: Open Access channel


In this thesis, I study the interplay between social interaction, community building and the use of digital networked media in the context of recreational sport. The interdisciplinary research topic stems from recent societal, cultural and technological developments which are affecting sport as a form of culture and forcing it to adopt new ways. The purpose of this thesis is to generate knowledge on how changes in communication and community formation constitute and manifest a new kind of communality in leisure sport cultures. The theoretical framework of the study is based on the literature on digital media, communities and networking cultures. In addition, this study draws on the literature on the mediatisation of sport. The dissertation consists of three empirical sub-studies: In Article I, I studied communication practices and the formation of social ties; in Article II, I examined visual communication; and in Article III, I explored self-tracking communication. The research was limited to individual and recreational sport practice. Altogether 301 climbing and trail-running enthusiasts living in Finland participated in the study. As data collection methods I used an online survey, semi-structured thematic interviews and online observation. As analysis methods I used statistical analysis, qualitative content analysis and image type analysis. The results suggest that a new type of communality in leisure sport is constituted by and manifests itself in techno-social networks that are controlled by and centred around individual sports practitioners, and that include a mix of social ties and groupings, light sport communities, and commercial media services. Digital media platforms are situated in the background, providing individual practitioners with temporary objects of identification and momentary experiences of communality. They also enable the formation of individual social ties, the organisation of social networks, and communication within the networks. Recreational sports practitioners ascribe a variety of intrinsic, ritualistic, self-motivating and communal meanings to content-sharing activities online. These meanings are integral to and reinforce the experience of physical activity.

Keywords: exercise culture; communality; new media; leisure; physical training; communities (organisations); networking (making contacts); social interaction; digital culture

Free keywords: digital media platforms; exercise culture; mediatisation of sport; networking

Contributing organizations

Ministry reporting: Yes

Reporting Year: 2021

Last updated on 2022-24-11 at 20:50