Hiking with an app: Technology in everyday movement culture

🇸🇪 In Swedish

Odd Lennart Vikene1, Reidun Nerhus Fretland1, Sylvia Hole1
& Helga Synnevåg Løvoll
1 Department of Sport, Food and Natural Sciences, Western Norway
University of Applied Sciences; 2 Department of sports, physical education
and outdoor studies, Volda University College

To go for a hike in the nearby environment is a popular activity within the Norwegian population. Voluntary organizations have for a long period of time taken initiative to place tour books on strategical places in the nearby environment for people to sign their names, so they can be counted for number of hikes, and maybe also compete for a prize. This as an initiative to increase hiking activity for the general population. Recently, there has been a change towards use of mobile phones and apps to register hiking activities. The aim of this study is to explore how new technologies, here exemplified by the app Georeg, influence the hiking experience. The study draws from theories of motivation, such as the self-determination theory (SDT) and with special attention to the term autonomy. A strategic sample of 22 active hikers (81% females, mean age 53) were recruited from the North-western part of Norway. Through semi-structured individual interviews, informants were asked about their hiking habits, their experiences, and their use of Georeg. The analysis identified four overarching themes: 1) from tour book to app, 2) how the app form and regulate, 3) the app creates contradictory feelings, and 4) when technology takes control. The findings illustrate both positive and negative perspectives of using the app, and a clear ambivalence from the informants appears in the material. The article discusses how parts of the app function as “nudging” for activity, but also how dualistic passion threaten participant’s autonomy and how nature can take a backseat to the total experience. We question what task is for the technology to solve, and if the app solely contributes to promote happiness, wellness and increased public health.

Click here to read this peer reviewed article in Swedish in Scandinavian Sport Studies Forum, Vol. 14, 2023

ODD LENNART VIKENE is an associate professor in friluftsliv at Western Norway University of Applied Sciences. His research examines educational and psychological perspectives applied in both sports and friluftsliv contexts.

REIDUN NERHUS FRETLAND is an associate professor in physical education at Western Norway University of Applied Sciences. Her’s research is mainly in the field of physical education, especially dance in school, and people’s experiences of being physically active.

SYLVIA HOLE is an assistance professor at Western Norway University of Applied Sciences. Her scholarly interests are within physical education, didactics and physical activity in different environments.

HELGA SYNNEVÅG LØVOLL is full professor in friluftsliv at the Department of sports, physical education and outdoor studies at Volda University College. She explores psychological and aesthetic aspects of friluftsliv. For more information, see https://www.hivolda.no/tilsette/institutt-idrett-og-friluftsliv/helga-synnevag-lovoll

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