Being in the zone and vital subjectivity: On the liminal sources of sport and art

Stenner, Paul (2017). Being in the zone and vital subjectivity: On the liminal sources of sport and art. In: Jordan, Tim; McClure, Brigid and Woodward, Kath eds. Culture, Identity and Intense Performativity: Being in the Zone. Innovations in the Humanities, Social Sciences and Creative Arts (4). Abingdon: Routledge, pp. 10–31.



With the aim of re-contextualising the social dimensions of Being in the Zone whilst retaining its psychological resonance, this contribution thinks Bitz alongside van Gennep's notion of liminality and Turner's notion of the liminoid. Bitz research centres around the liminoid spheres of sport and art, and it is in these social contexts that it has its primary meaning. This move enables the articulation of a critical distance from the role the ‘being in the zone’ concept is coming to play in new forms of governance and corporate activity which aim towards a super-productive 'vital subjectivity'. In these contexts, Bitz does not address people as thinking subjects who must self-manage by making decisions, but as unified and (ideally) unconscious mind/bodies seeking experiences composed of an optimal balance of feelings. This optimal balance, at the same time, promises something interesting to the manager: an individual operating at full-capacity and yielding maximum productivity with no need of extrinsic reward. Situating Bitz in relation to liminality contributes to the task of tracing the genealogy of the vital subject back to a set of social practices directly concerned with the incitement and management of affectivity and emotion.

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