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Dr. LAURENT  is a recognized expert in the field of Sociology, Urban Sociology and Sport Sociology / Kinesiology and more specifically in the skateboard communities and skateboarding cultures research. He has over nine years of research experiences.

He is a doctor in sociology from France. Dr Julien LAURENT’s Ph.D dissertation was about street skateboarding, the uses of the city, skateboarders lifestyles, interactions. He analyzed social and cultural positions that drive skateboarders actions and way to think their activity and the urban landscapes used. Dr LAURENT has a Master degree in sport studies/kinesiology.

He lives in San Diego, California, where he still analyze skateboarders and surfers behaviors, lifestyles, social interactions, the Californian culture and those sports evolutions.

Visit Dr Julien LAURENT’s Linkdin profile

 

 

 

  • ACADEMIC BACKGROUND

Master degree in Sport Studies from the Université of Nice and Marseille, France, 2001/2003.

Ph.D degree in Sociology from the University of Poitiers, France, 2004/2008.

One year contract as ATER (Assistant professor/lecturer/Researcher) in the French West Indies University, 2008/2009.

Post doctorate in the University of Quebec at montreal, UQAM, 2010/2011.

Lecturer in the Geography department and the Urban studies and Tourism department in the UQAM, Montreal, Canada, 2010/2011.

 

  • RESEARCH THEMES

Dr Julien LAURENT’s  focus his researches with a sociology, an ethnology and an anthropology approaches on skateboarders, contemporary lifestyles and urban physical activities in downtown areas. He is  also invested in sport studies, analyzing board sports and their evolutions.

Dr Julien LAURENT’s  research also took a wider dimension after several academic experiences in Guadeloupe (Sport History) but  above all in Montreal, Canada with other topics like health and educative dimensions of sport public facilities, transitory population in downtown areas, Formula one Grand Prix social and cultural impacts on population and cities, teachings/lectures in Human Geography, Urbanism, Europe development and Qualitative methodology.

– Urban sociology, Symbolic interactionism, Ethnomethodology

– Sport studies, Sociology of Sport, Anthropology of Sport, Leisure and Games

– Qualitative Methodology, Fieldwork, Observations, Life story, Interviews.

– Social, Educative and Health Effects related to Skateparks on teenagers and young adults

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  • TEACHING

Dr Julien LAURENT taught during his first Ph.D year in Sport Sociology and Sport Anthropology in the Sport studies/Kinesiology department in Nice Sophia-Antipolis University, France (2004).

Then he did some lectures for several years in Sport Management about the urban physical activities and skatepark management but also classical sociology in the Sport studies/Kinesiology department in the Montpellier University, France (2005-2008).

As an ATER in the French West Indies University, Dr Julien LAURENT was in charge of Lectures and directed work in Sport Sociology and Sport History, lectures in Sport Anthropology.

During his post doctorate in Montreal Dr LAURENT was a lecturer/assistant professor in Human Geography/demography/Immigration and also in Urbanism and Tourism on the City and cultural European development topic. He also  did some lectures in Qualitative Methodology in the School of administration in Montreal (ENAP), Geopolitic of Europe in UQAM and lectures about skateboard landscapes and skateboarders animations of downtown areas in the University of Montreal and also in the University of Quebec at Trois-Rivière.

All those academic achievements prove Dr LAURENT  versatility in Human sciences and his skills to adapt his theoretical approaches to several topics.

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  • PUBLICATIONS

Dr Julien LAURENT is involved as a reviewer in internationally recognized journals such as “Youth & Society”, “International Review for the Sociology of Sport”, and “Journal of Sport & Social Issues” since 2011-2012.

His peer reviewed articles was published in «Les Annales de la recherche urbaine» (France), STAPS/Sport studies (France), Society and leisure (Canada).

Dr LAURENT also participated at several book chapter in Sport studies.

A book based on his Ph.D dissertation was published: «Le skateboard analyse sociologique d’une pratique physique urbaine. This is street skateboarding.»

Dr LAURENT was director of a book about a Geopolitic analysis of Formula one: Géopolitique et virages de la Formule 1.

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Visit Dr Julien LAURENT’s profil on ResearchGate and Academia

 

 

 


PERSONAL STORY

” I’m a French sociologist who lives in Vista, California since 2012. I’m 35 years old surfer and skateboarder. I started to play with a skateboard when I was a kid in the 80’s and I discovered street skateboarding in the mid 90‘s in Nice, French Riviera. I discovered surfing lately in 2008 in Guadeloupe, France. Right now I surf more than I use my skateboard because I have access to several spots in Carlsbad and Oceanside where I can surf every week. I’m still doing frequently those 2 activities. 

I was good at school every time I found something interesting and stimulating to learn, to discover, like facts and knowledges that helped me understand human beings, believes, cultures, civilizations and societies, topics that were quiet rare in fact.

I was and I am still interested by human sciences like sociology and anthropology but also history, politics, geopolitics and human geography.

Stimulated by my urban experiments growing up as a skateboarder kid in the 90’s, using downtown plazas and urban artifacts, I started a college formation in sport studies and kinesiology in 1998/1999 in Nice, France. Without a real professional goal, I wanted to obtain the more diploma I can in this field. I always had in mind the will to study skateboarder habits, community and to explain those behaviors scientifically.

College is a great place to learn tons of concepts, theories, how scientific leaders and founding fathers think and proceed, but you don’t have the time (between 2 exams for example) or you need this first learning process to start thinking by yourself and to make uses of these knowledges for things that matter according to your own path.

I discovered sport sociology and anthropology and I directly wanted to use those sciences to discover, to search and to explain objectively what I enjoyed as a skateboarder who had access to the city to express myself, to be part of a teenager crew, to be part of what we thought was an underground community sharing a local and an international street subculture.

 After my bachelor degree in Sport Studies, I did a Master in sport sociology. I discovered the first published articles in french and in english about skateboarders and skateboarding and I started my own surveys, interviews and observations in Nice. At this time I didn’t have a strong classical sociology/anthropology background but I was totally absorbed and positively overwhelmed by what those fields, theories and concepts could offer for my research perspectives. I studied french searchers and academics as Fize, Touché, Calogirou, Adamkiewicz and assistant professor Becky Beal. It was as surreal as when I discovered that it was possible to learn tricks with a skateboard when I was a teenager.

Based on my own observations and interviews, my first field work experiences, I demonstrated the existence or the skateboarders wills to sociologically establish and construct generation ranks, grades, levels, differences of behaviors and way to think skateboarding within the Nice’s skateboarder community. It was like skateboarder crews used a way to develop sociological and symbolical boundaries to mark their positions and differences between them and based on a more complicated type of Old school / New school distinctions. I analyzed and demonstrated a constructed generational rupture between skateboarders that evolved during the 90’s and the new comers from the late 90’s with different approaches, different goals, different perceptions of this leisure and culture and even a sport mentality penetration.

I will develop this topic during my entire academic career to deliver a better understanding of those social actors and this urban physical activity.    

Then I continued my sport studies education with a Master 2 in Marseille, France.

I wanted to demonstrated the existence of ruptures and distinctions in the skateboard definitions and perceptions within the french skateboard community at a national level. What skateboarders think, say and do when they are doing their activity. What does that mean for skateboarders to be a skateboarder and how they think their leisure, culture, passion. I wanted to discuss a sport theory distinction between classical competitive sports and the new fun board sport emergence, the analogical and digital sport distinction developed by Alain Loret. Skateboarding as surfing during the 80’s and the beginning of the 90’s were considered as a new approach based on feelings, fun, and a non competitive mentality which was and still is true, a position that I do not criticize but I wanted to push further the reflexion and to show the complexity of those activities based on what skateboarders say and think (skateboarding started in california in the 60 ‘s and 70’s with a sport format, contest/competition, cf. the dog town documentary and the first magazines). So it was a good way to discuss those theoretical positions and to show how complex this community can be and evolve. I founded my second academic research based on thematic surveys. I collected and analyzed hundreds of french skateboarding magazines and I made emerged a constellation of themes and topics found on those specialized magazines (Sugar, Tricks, Freestyler, B.side). I was able to demonstrate several cultural positions developed in those french magazines where we can read stories or see pictures in the same issue of the street underground aggressive anti-sport and anti-conformity skateboarding subculture and a recount of contest events that establish ranks, hierarchy, levels that took place in a non street environment, the skatepark, elaborated to evaluate a performance, to create a space and time with rules as in a classic competitive sport. My goal was not to criticize those skateboarding aspects and definitions but to offer a better understanding of the options a skateboarder can grasp entering this activity and growing in one or both of those 2 cultural universes.

This research appears in a book chapter following a lecture at the AISLF, Tours, France 2004.

The first lecture I did during the ACAPS, Toulouse, 2003 concerning this Master research offered me the opportunity to meet Pr. Gibout who will become my Ph.D director at the University of Poitiers, France.

This reflexion led me and still lead me to a profound will to understand and create a definition of skateboarding as a urban physical activity mixing a physical performance and a subjective dimension, the «style» concept used by skateboarders (flow concept used by MCs) that offer a kind of artistic dimension to skateboarding (it’s not just a performance but an entire way of expression in a specific landscape).

This reflexive step permits me to produce a book chapter about the acrobatic aspects of skateboarding as a way to not entirely enter the world of sport and to develop and keep an artistic/subjective/no rule dimension that I linked to the freestyle/freeride notions.

 Thesis

After that I began my most ambitious academic project, a street skateboarding thesis research in Montpellier, France. I studied classical sociology and the founding fathers to understand and to choose which theoretical foundation and methodology will be the more relevant for my questionings, my way to understand this micro society composed by different actors. I spent the first year reading Webber, Simmel, Durkheim, Marx, Aron, Élias, Tönnies to understand each sociological position, to decipher and to understand the skateboarder community. I specialized my readings in the ethnographic methodology, ethnomethodology (Garfinkel) and symbolical interactionism (Goffman), the school of Chicago (Becker), the field work, the actor motifs of actions and aims (Merton, Giddens), the grounded Theory (Glazer and Strauss) and also the basics in anthropology (Mauss, Mead, Malinowski, Lévi-Strauss, Van Gennep, Hall). In the same time I infiltrated a new skateboarders community in Montpellier. I started a 4 years field work composed by several observations each week. I evolved in several skateboarder groups. I studied skateboarders behaviors in the street and at skateparks. I had the chance to live the evolution of several street skateboard spots and the skateboarders animation of those spots in downtown Montpellier. After hundreds of observations, interviews and life story interviews with 20 of the most relevant skateboarders (age, number of years in the skateboard community, skills based on sponsorships, observations, implications) of this community, and a methodology based on the grounded theory, I analyzed and I created a constellation of social interactions, skateboarding interpretations and definitions, skateboarder profiles, distinctions and decipher their lifestyles. I decrypted and explained those distinctions from one group of skateboarders to another. I explained why those individuals wanted to keep this activity in an urban landscape, why others searched to develop a sport. In fact how this activity was perceived by several ideal type of skateboarders and what was their motivations, their goals and their intentions. I was able to decipher this micro society, several lifestyles, tensions and conflicts but most of all why skateboarders act like they do and why they keep their position in the street and stay focus on this sociological and anthropological more fulfilling aspects of this urban physical leisure/activity

All my scientific materials, analysis and explanations of the Montpellier skateboard community is concentrated in a 2 tomes thesis dissertation. After an introduction explaining my skateboarder career, the most relevant questions about skateboarding and skateboarders, the justification of my field work in Montpellier, a review of literature and some epistemology questions, I invited the reader to penetrate this urban universe, to adopt this machine or toy and its proper culture, codes and rules.

All my scientific materials, analysis and explanations of the Montpellier skateboard community is concentrated in a 2 tomes thesis dissertation. After an introduction explaining my skateboarder career, the most relevant questions about skateboarding and skateboarders, the justification of my field work in Montpellier, a review of literature and some epistemology questions, I invited the reader to penetrate this urban universe, to adopt this machine or toy and its proper culture, codes and rules.

 

The first chapter is a definition of skateboarding, from the slide and fun aspects to the aggressive ride and tricks dimension in the street. Then in a second chapter I focus my analysis about the city life, urban landscapes and the street culture and lifestyles of skateboarding, it’s the space and environment aspects. The third chapter is an explanation of the time, evolutions, cycles and fashions in skateboarding and also how this industry generates trends, icons and codes. The skateboarders from Montpellier is the main topic of the fourth chapter, are they crews, groups, gangs, a specific community, or a constellation of individuals… I also describe my methodology in this part, how I had to adapt my position as a searcher during this entire field work process, the tools elaborated to collect datas, how to penetrate those groups, how to be the more effective and relevant as a rookie sociologist and how to not have effects/impacts on those skateboarders. I also describe some skateboarders social and anthropological portraits in this part.

In the second volume of my thesis dissertation, I describe in the fifth chapter the two main skateboarder crews that I was able to infiltrate, explaining their position, conceptions, thoughts, legacies and behaviors. Why those skateboarders act like they do and why they take special stances in this community according to their skills and social positions. Some are experts capturing pictures and videos for sometimes an economical aspects other just use skateboarding as a leisure or a trend to be part of a community, a scene.

Then I focus my analysis on the space dimension, the several spots in Montpellier, their evolutions and skateboarders that used those spaces, animating the city and also entering in conflicts with other users, other skateboarders implicated in the skatepark aspect and the associative/sport dimension and with the local city policy.

I describe in the seventh chapter the most relevant spots of Montpellier (street spots, do it yourself spots, skateparks) and what I observed there as skateboarders behaviors and disctinctions from one spot to another, who use those specific spots and why? I had the chance to focus my analysis on the evolution of one plaza in downtown Montpellier, an ideal type of street skateboarding spot full of obstacles, a renovated urban environment where skaters entered in conflicts with the police and destroyed several time skate stoppers.

All those analysis lead my Ph.D research to a skateboard lifestyle(s) sociological and anthropological explanation. Is there a true freeride/freestyle/free mentality in this leisure or is it just an illusion developed by teenagers or the skateboard industry/medias? What does that mean to be a street skateboarder, to be a skatepark skateboarder, to be a skateboarder, is there ways to think, to be, to act like a skateboarder? In this part I decipher lifestyles that a teenager can exploit entering this culture, produce differences and distinctions. At the end what is this skateboard underground dimension and why this aspect is such relevant and preserved even cherished in this leisure and culture? This reflexion on the underground dimension leads me to the secrecy aspect of skateboarding, the protection of a specific legacy, to keep a certain freedom and distinction with other kids and other people in the street, a dimension that seems more fulfilling  than what other physical activities or sports can offer. This dimension permits me to explain why those actors keep their anti-conformity codes and behaviors, why they try to stay in the streets/plazas spots, why they conserve the street dimension that appears culturally and sociologically more fulfilling than a sport, massive and accessible skateboard activity.