The Commodification of Experience
By the early twenty-first century, surfing was a multibillion-dollar industry. It relied on the neoliberal globalization of the preceding decades, with surfwear corporations employing sweatshop labor in the developing world and contributing to the environmental damage produced by apparel manufacturing. At the same time, it marketed an image of surfing as cool and even rebellious. This industrialization exposed a tension within the surfing community: should surfers embrace their sport’s growth and professionalization or did the industrialization detract from the “purity” of people riding waves? By the early twenty-first century, the organic surfwear brands faced a growing threat from non-endemics such as Nike and Hollister.
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