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Les sommets de l'excellence. Sociologie de l'excellence en alpinisme, au Royaume-Uni et en France, du XIXème siècle à nos jours

Abstract : This thesis proposes a socio-historical approach of excellence in mountaineering, from the creation of the British Alpine Club, the first alpine club in the world, founded in 1856, up until the beginning of the 21st century. Excellence is defined by three relations: a relation to the activity of mountaineering, that is, the legitimate ways of practicing this activity, a relation to oneself, that is, the ways in which excellent mountaineers (the “great mountaineers”) see themselves and consider their biographical trajectories, and a relation to others, that is, the ways in which these mountaineers apprehend and distinguish themselves from the other users of mountains and from non-mountaineers. From the study of the discourses of the elite of British and French mountaineering, we seek to understand how a “spirit of mountaineering” (a mentality as well as an “esprit de corps”, an ethos, and a set of ethical principles at the foundation of excellence) has been created, transmitted, has travelled between countries and has been maintained over time. This “spirit” is the basis of a sense of belonging, even of a collective identity. Centered on Britain, as the cradle of mountaineering and the place where an original form of excellence, still perceived today as specific, was initially codified, this study considers French mountaineering, of later appearance, as a comparative point of reference, useful to point out a phenomenon of diffusion of the British conception of excellence. The issue of the historical genesis of a “great mountaineering” on the long-term scale doubles up with the issue of the biographical making of the “great mountaineer”, considered on the short-term scale of the biographical trajectory. By doing so, it is a work of denaturalization of excellence, seen as a historical and social construct, which is undertaken. The study of the three dimensions of excellence (as a relation to activity, to oneself, and to the others) is carried on in the first place with the help of an unusual material: a corpus of 62 autobiographies of mountaineers. Its use is backed with methodological observations regarding the conditions of its sociological validity. In order to consider these discourses within their historical and social frames of enunciation, other materials are used: 16 interviews, two databases (one of them used to carry out a prosopography), the articles and necrologies of the journals of the selective alpine clubs of the two countries.
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Submitted on : Wednesday, May 23, 2018 - 3:57:06 PM
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Delphine Moraldo. Les sommets de l'excellence. Sociologie de l'excellence en alpinisme, au Royaume-Uni et en France, du XIXème siècle à nos jours. Sociologie. Université de Lyon, 2017. Français. ⟨NNT : 2017LYSEN050⟩. ⟨tel-01798557⟩



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