Social media in serious leisure: Themes of horse rider safety


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Information research;22(4)


University of Borås

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Introduction. The aim of this study is to gain insight into how issues of safety are discussed and understood by horse riders on social media. Safety issues are omnipresent in the leisure activity of horse riding. Social media affords user-generated content, which provide arenas for information interactions and informal discussions that complement more official arenas. Method. An extensive number of postings and comments were derived from selected social networking sites, blogs and web forums engaged in by Swedish horse riders. Analysis. An iterative, qualitative content analysis was conducted on the basis of analytical questions and emerging themes on rider safety. The analysis generated five themes that together portray rider safety as an issue in need of greater attention. Results. Safety issues are downplayed in social media dealing with horse riding. The findings show that safety for humans is given lower priority than the safety of horses. There is a tendency to disregard safety and to project personal experiences of fear onto the horse, and there is no agreement on what constitutes safety. Conclusion. The results highlight a renewed need for explicit attention to be paid to safety issues especially in riding schools, since safety remains elusive and negotiable in discussions in social media, and thus becomes a risk in itself. Participants try to emulate embodied knowledge (intentionally and unintentionally) through stories and series of pictures and film sequences. The lack of support for a corporeal information modality in social media generates uncertainty, which may distort the meanings and intentions latent in the conversations.




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