Reconsidering law at the edge: how and why do place‐managers balance thrill and compliance at outdoor attraction sites?

BENNETT, Luke (2020). Reconsidering law at the edge: how and why do place‐managers balance thrill and compliance at outdoor attraction sites? Area.

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This article challenges legal geographers to go further in their claimed rejection of legal closure (the reduction of any situation to a purely legal dimension), by calling for greater exploration of how law’s command is always acting alongside and potentially subordinated to other spatio‐cultural normative influences. The insights of this advocated approach are illustrated using examples drawn from the author’s fieldwork conducted across a variety of outdoor attraction settings, which have explored how place‐managers frame, arrange and present their sites by reference to individual goals and communal interpretive practices deriving from multiple normative drivers. It is argued that this plurality of influences requires place‐managers to act as edgeworkers, developing a finely tuned understanding of how to manage the potentially hazardous co‐presence of visitors’ bodies and physical edges at their sites. This requires active balancing of their interpretation of (, and compliance with), broad commandments for their sites to ‘reasonably safe’, with the requirements of other pressing normativities, including those set by landscape aesthetics that demand that visitors must be presented with an appropriately thrilling experience. Recent trends in the development of contemporary legal geographic analysis, each of which are suggestive of an increasing attentiveness to law’s limits, are considered in order to develop this critique of conventional legal geographic practice and in support of the potentiality of the recommended new focus, specifically: legal geography’s ‘contingency orientation’ (Orzeck & Hae); emerging interest in the ‘edge of law’ (Jeffrey); and in the purposeful creation of normative atmospheres and law’s dissimulation there (Philippopoulos‐Mihalopoulos; Pavoni). Through these analytical lenses place‐manager’s active and skilful edgework becomes both more visible, and more understandable, as a dynamic situational balancing of compliance with safety laws and with the satisfaction of thrill and desire.

Item Type: Article
Uncontrolled Keywords: 0406 Physical Geography and Environmental Geoscience; 1604 Human Geography; Geography
Identification Number:
SWORD Depositor: Symplectic Elements
Depositing User: Symplectic Elements
Date Deposited: 21 Sep 2020 15:08
Last Modified: 15 Sep 2022 01:18

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