Professional Climber: Creative Work in the Field of Sport
This dissertation questions the ways value is produced and the working mechanisms in a particular environment, namely climbing, through the conceptual tools of studies in the field of creation. Backed by studies of creative work performed in the fields of art, fashion and communication, it seeks to construct the figure of the professional climber by viewing it as the outcome of a collective creative process in which different groups of actors are mobilised. This collective work leads to an ideal “professional” articulated around a sports career that originates as a vocation and unfolds through multiple geographic displacements and through the support of companies, brands and federations. With the goal of understanding this process, an ethnographic study was performed in the United States and Europe between 2012 and 2014 with world-class climbers, photographers, cameramen, journalists and members of the specialised industry. This dissertation first addresses the motivations pushing the actors to work together, as well as the different modalities of this creative work, and secondly the organisation, structure and mechanisms that structure this work. The analysis reveals the heterogeneity of the tasks performed and their situations, highlighting the constructed nature of professional categories. In fact, beyond the meaning and representations associated with the “figure” of the professional climber devoted exclusively to performing a primary activity, climbing, the work of the professional climber is essentially based on professional polyvalence. This research analyses the everyday reality of those who have reached the peak of their “art”, contributing knowledge of creative work as it has been analysed in other fields.