Wilderness Experience and Identity
Weisner, Madeline A.
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This paper examines the predominant anthropological and sociological theories on behavior and identity and their connections with wilderness experiences. It attempts to define the concept of a wilderness experience in the current context, as well as examining the social construction of these experiences and how it has been influenced by history. The author connects personal experiences at a wilderness adventure camp to the concepts of identity formation explored in the literature. She argues that wilderness experiences are beneficial to young people for a variety of reasons, but that these benefits are not intrinsic to the experience itself and are instead the products of the social construction of wilderness. She also argues, using Sherry Ortner's concept of practice theory, that the influence of wilderness experiences are shaped by individuals and society, while at the same time molding the identities of those who take part in them.