Adventure as character work: The collective taming of fear

Lori Holyfield*, Gary Alan Fine

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

46 Scopus citations


It is ultimately through experience that character is formulated and made evident. From an ethnographic examination of an adventure program (Ropes Adventure, Inc.) that attempts to mold the identity of adolescents who have been detained for minor felonies and misdemeanors, we examine how personal challenge can be channeled into moral messages. By evoking and then taming fear (adventure), organizations demonstrate the power of personal accomplishment, trust, and cooperation - each socially legitimated moral virtues. We argue that character building efforts may be hampered when organizational aims and actual implementation of structured adventure collide.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)343-363
Number of pages21
JournalSymbolic Interaction
Issue number4
StatePublished - 1997

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Nursing
  • Social Psychology
  • Education
  • Communication
  • Sociology and Political Science
  • General Social Sciences


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