Parkour: Between craftsmanship and playfulness

Henning Eichberg, Signe Højbjerre Larsen

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingBook chapterResearchpeer-review


Chapter 6 takes its starting point at the youth cultural activity of parkour. Parkour has so far been described in two different frames of understanding: as a form of social critique and as craftsmanship. On one hand, the parkour runner plays with his or her environment, testing walls, stairs, roofs etc. by playful trials, turning the normality of moving topsy-turvy, provoking surprises, and creating feelings of playful fun, which on a symbolic-discursive level reveals the suppressive constitution of the capitalistic urban space. On the other hand, the parkour runner in a concentrated and engaged way practically explores and investigates facilities in the urban landscape, their materials, and their challenge in relation to one’s own ability. By touching, feeling, and trying, parkour develops a craft-like relation to obstacles on the way and produces movement success. The two forms of activity interconnect, what normally theoretically is dissociated: craftsmanship as a serious form of work, and play as a free and spontaneous activity of fun. This implies some philosophical challenges: How are the activity of parkour, the concept of craft or work, and the concept of play related to the question, which the human beings puts to the world? And if it is the player, who plays, or the play, which makes the human being a player, what does this inversion mean for craftsmanship: The craft making the craftsman?
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationPlay in Philosophy and Social Thought
EditorsSigne Højbjerre Larsen
Place of PublicationLondon and New York
Publication date2019
ISBN (Print)978-1-138-32236-3, 978-0-429-45210-9
Publication statusPublished - 2019


Cite this

Eichberg, H., & Højbjerre Larsen, S. (2019). Parkour: Between craftsmanship and playfulness. In S. Højbjerre Larsen (Ed.), Play in Philosophy and Social Thought (1. ed., pp. 143-156). Routledge.