The “Sense of One’s Place” in the “Social Status Game” of an Educational Expedition Group




group dynamics, gender, Bourdieu, status processes, social justice


Group status hierarchies can affect individuals’ experiences and groups’ outcomes in group-based Outdoor Adventure Education programs. As status is associated with perceived competence, the aim of this study was to explore the strategies used by group members to influence others’ perceptions of their competences in an educational expedition group. Drawing on ethnographic data, a Bourdieusian sociological framework was used to highlight the rationale underlying the different strategies identified. Our findings indicated that participants’ sense of place in the group status structure influenced the strategies they used to convey an image of proficiency. Configurations of differential characteristics, such as gender, age, experience and social class, played a decisive role in this regard. Men who failed to achieve the status they believed they deserved were more likely to adopt strategies that were detrimental to others. We propose ways practitioners could build on these results to improve inclusivity and equality.

Author Biographies

Lorie Ouellet, Université du Québec à Chicoutimi

Lorie Ouellet is professor at the Outdoor Leadership Teaching Unit at the Université du Québec à Chicoutimi since 2011. Moreover, she is a researcher at the Laboratoire d’expertise et de recherche en plein air (LERPA) [Outdoor Expertise and Research Laboratory]. Her teaching activities mainly take place in expedition settings involving various technical disciplines such as cross-country skiing, hiking and whitewater canoeing as well as outdoor leadership. Her research focuses on social gender relations in outdoor education.

Suzanne Laberge, Université de Montréal

Suzanne Laberge is full professor at the School of kinesiology of Université de Montréal. As a social anthropologist, she has done various research in sociology of sport and physical activity. She has published many papers drawing on the sociocultural theory of Pierre Bourdieu. Gender relations is one of her main research expertise.


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