Lifestyle sport, public policy and youth engagement: examining the emergence of parkour

Paul Gilchrist, Belinda Wheaton

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


In this article we consider the development of parkour in the South of England and its use in public policy debates and initiatives around youth, physical activity and risk. Based on in-depth qualitative interviews with participants and those involved in the development of parkour in education, sport policy and community-based partnerships, we explore the potential of parkour to engage communities, particularly those traditionally excluded from mainstream sport and physical education provision. We discuss how the perceived success of parkour in these different contexts is related to the culture and ethos of the activity that is more inclusive, anticompetitive and less rule-bound than most traditional sports, and to its ability to provide managed risk-taking. More broadly, the article highlights the emergence of lifestyle sports as tools for policymakers and the potential role these nontraditional, non-institutionalized lifestyle sports can make in terms of encouraging youth engagement, physical health and well-being. Our article therefore contributes to ongoing debates about the (in)ability of traditional sports to meet government targets for sport and physical activity participation.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)109-131
Number of pages23
JournalInternational Journal of Sport Policy and Politics
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Mar 2011


  • lifestyle sport
  • parkour
  • youth policy
  • risk
  • youth
  • subculture


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