French Cycling: A Social and Cultural History

French Cycling: A Social and Cultural History

French Cycling: A Social and Cultural History

French Cycling: A Social and Cultural History

Synopsis

French Cycling: a Social and Cultural History aims to provide a balanced and detailed analytical survey of the complex leisure activity, sport, and industry that is cycling in France. Identifying key events, practices, stakeholders and institutions in the history of French cycling, the volume presents an interdisciplinary analysis of how cycling has been significant in French society and culture since the late nineteenth century.

Excerpt

French Cycling: a Social and Cultural History aims to provide a balanced and detailed analytical survey of the complex leisure activity, sport and industry that is cycling in France. Identifying key events, practices, stakeholders and institutions in the history of French cycling, the volume presents an interdisciplinary analysis of how cycling has been significant in French society and culture since the late nineteenth century.

Structuring and writing this book has been rather challenging, principally because of the potentially vast scope of material and debate, given the multi-faceted nature of ‘cycling’, and indeed, the chronological range of the period during which cycling has been significant, in whatever ways and in whatever forms to individuals or groups of any kind, in France. It could be argued that providing a fully comprehensive and fully balanced treatment of cycling in France since, say, the 1870s would require a team of researchers, a multi-volume series and the best part of an academic lifetime! Based on the view that few publishers would accept such a project, the approach in this treatment has thus been necessarily selective. in the paragraphs that follow we explain the approach of the book, starting with the question: ‘What to do with the Tour de France?’

The Tour is cycling, but cycling is not just the Tour

A significant and recurring problem in planning and writing this book has been a cycling-related phenomenon that most people – if asked to say one thing they knew about cycling in France – would readily suggest as the obvious topic: the Tour de France. Everyone, in France and outside, knows about the Tour de France. This simple fact reflects its dominant centrality to, arguably, almost all French understandings of what cycling is, and is not. There is perhaps a tendency among some British and American experts on the sociology and socioeconomics of cycling to consider the Tour de France as – just – a race, and as one example among many of the specialized activity of cycling as competition, and professional, elite, commercialized competition at that. To the Anglo-American . . .

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